Ex-internal affairs head turns ‘whistleblower’ against King County sheriff

The former head of internal affairs for the King County Sheriff’s Office now seeks whistleblower protection after saying Sheriff John Urquhart made troubling comments about women and meddled in internal investigations involving female officers who complained of discrimination.

Capt. D.J. Nesel recently testified that a county prosecutor threatened him prior to a court-ordered deposition in which he roundly criticized Urquhart. The allegations came during a Sept. 6 deposition, as a bitterly fought lawsuit involving discrimination claims against Urquhart and his office reached a boiling point.

Urquhart has been ordered to testify as attorneys for the county fight to keep Nesel from divulging details of the sheriff’s comments. King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman is expected to rule later this week whether Nesel can elaborate on his claims. Nesel is not a party to the lawsuit.

Nesel was brought in as head of the internal investigations unit shortly after Urquhart was elected in 2012. Nesel, now in his 25th year with the Sheriff’s Office, said he was told he would be a change agent in the unit.

Eighteen months after arriving in the office, though, the former Marine was looking for a way out. He said he’d had enough of Urquhart’s meddling and disrespectful comments.

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