Prostitution and King County sheriff's office computers might be a combination that put three deputies on paid leave.
The sheriff put three deputies on leave this week, but won't say why they were taken off the job.
"I don't comment on ongoing investigations," King County Sheriff John Urquhart told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson on Friday.
The Seattle Times reported Thursday the deputy is being investigated for allegedly using county resources to help his wife work as a prostitute. According to the story, the deputy may have used county computers to run background checks on his wife's clients.
Steve Miletich, who wrote the story for The Seattle Times, tells KIRO Radio's Morning News that there are multiple ways background checks could have aided the deputy's wife in her alleged activities.
"Two things can be accomplished by looking into the computers: One, to determine if a potential client has a criminal record, has a violent background, might be a danger. Secondly, whether that person could be an undercover police officer who might pose a danger to her as far as being arrested."
Miletich says they understand the other two deputies are on leave for allegedly tipping that first deputy off to the fact that he was being investigated.
"Two other deputies, like this particular deputy, have been put on paid administrative leave. It's our understanding in the case of the other two deputies, the issue may be that they alerted this particular deputy to an investigation because of some loyalty or friendship or work ties," says Miletich. "That is being investigated, and there's a potential of this expanding into other people in the department."
Urquhart told Monson he could neither confirm or deny The Seattle Times report, but would say that some of what was in the story was wrong. When pressed, he would not identify which information was inaccurate as it would amount to him confirming the other information in the story. The fact that any information was leaked is upsetting to Urquhart, who says it is negatively impacting the case.
"My number one priority is the integrity of an investigation. And if I release information too early, too soon, or if the media releases information too early, too soon, it can compromise that investigation," says Urquhart. "My goal in any investigation is justice, justice for the community and justice for my employees."
The deputy at the center of the investigation has been with the department for 19 years, and is reportedly embroiled in a bitter divorce with his wife. Miletich says in the divorce court papers, the deputy referenced his wife's alleged participation in prostitution.
"In divorce papers that have been filed in their pending dissolution case, there is indication that he was aware of her activities, at least as he purports, of her working as a paid escort or prostitute. So this had been an ongoing issue in the marriage, he alleges," says Miletich. "He doesn't implicate himself in any of the activities."
The FBI is helping the sheriff's office in the investigation. It served warrants at the deputy's home, car and office desk earlier this week.
KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan and Jamie Skorheim contributed to this report.