Two high-ranking members of the Bellevue Police Department have been demoted for hiding an extramarital affair that went on for eight months and included sexual encounters on training trips, according to documents obtained by KIRO Radio.
As The Seattle Times first reported Tuesday, Maj. John Manning and Capt. Autumn Fowler have both been demoted to the rank of lieutenant and will no longer serve on the department’s command staff.
“Demotion to a non-command staff rank is the only real alternative in the face of such longstanding deception, erosion of trust, and flagrant disregard for the interests of the Department,” Police Chief Linda Pillo wrote in an internal memo.
“This was not a momentary lapse in judgment. You chose your personal wants and needs over the Department’s for eight months,” she said.
According to a Washington State Patrol investigation, the relationship began in January 2012 and was exposed in August by a fellow police captain, who had reportedly been in a long-term dating relationship with Fowler.
The captain, who often stopped by Fowler’s home in the evenings, found Manning naked in Fowler’s closet.
“(The captain) stated it was evident to him Manning and Fowler had engaged in sexual relations that evening,” according to the report.
He reported the relationship to Chief Pillo and Manning’s wife.
The department said Tuesday that the discipline is not a result of the affair itself, but that the two violated policies that require them to report such relationships to their superiors.
“Professionally your options were clear cut and simple: report the relationship or not engage in it,” Pillo wrote. According to Pillo, Fowler had previously been counseled about separating her personal life from her professional relationships.
The state patrol investigation stated that Manning was extremely distraught after his relationship with Fowler was exposed.
“I just (explicative)up my life,” he reportedly said. “My life is ruined. I screwed everything up.”
Manning told investigators that his sexual relationship with Fowler began in January 2012 during a training trip to Durham, North Carolina. He said sexual encounters also took place while the two were at an FBI Academy board meeting in Chelan in April and a training trip in Spokane in June.
“Manning explained the physical relationship continued until late June 2012 and during that time he communicated with Fowler on and off duty via text message, phone calls, work email, personal email, and face-to-face conversations,” the report said. “Manning said he went to great lengths to hide his relationship from his wife; therefore, he deleted messages from his phone so he did not get caught.”
Chief Pillo said fallout from their actions will impact the department “for years to come.”
The incident comes a month after two other Bellevue police officers were disciplined for drunken and disorderly behavior at a Seattle Seahawks game.