King Co. Sheriff John Urquhart: NFL is being a ‘bully’
The NFL blasted the King County Sheriff’s Office for its handling of a domestic violence case against former Seahawk Josh Brown. But Sheriff John Urquhart fired back on Thursday, saying the NFL failed to go through the proper channels, and further, the NFL is being a “bully.”
“I don’t like to get pushed around by a bully,” Urquhart told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.
The NFL announced Thursday that it would re-open its investigation of New York Giants placekicker Josh Brown after police released journal entries and emails in which he admitted that he verbally and physically abused his ex-wife. A misdemeanor domestic violence charge was dropped within days of Brown’s arrest in Woodinville last May. The Sheriff’s Office, though, has now released more than 150 pages of documents that show the woman accused Brown of abusing her more than 20 times.
The NFL was blasted for only giving Brown a one-game suspension when it promised to do more to fight domestic violence. The league says it now plans to review this new information and will decide any next steps it will take.
In a press release, the league claimed it tried repeatedly to get information about domestic violence allegations against Brown, but that the Sheriff’s Office denied them.
NFL investigators made repeated attempts — both orally and in writing — to obtain any and all evidence and relevant information in this case from the King County Sheriff’s Office. Each of those requests was denied and the Sheriff’s Office declined to provide any of the requested information, which ultimately limited our ability to fully investigate this matter. We concluded our own investigation, more than a year after the initial incident, based on the facts and evidence available to us at the time and after making exhaustive attempts to obtain information in a timely fashion. It is unfortunate that we did not have the benefit or knowledge of these materials at the time.
Urquhart vs. the NFL
Urquhart explained why he was not pleased with the NFL “taking shots” and “lashing out” at his office. He said that four days after Brown was involved in an alleged domestic violence incident on May 22, 2015, a man named Rob Agnew submitted a public disclosure request with a generic Comcast email address.
“Nowhere on the request does he say that he works for the NFL and so, we don’t know that it’s the NFL and we’re not gonna give it out anyway, so we denied it,” Urquhart said.
“’NFL, National Football League,’he could have (said) any of that,” Urquhart said. “Robert Agnew, Comcast.net, post office box in Woodinville. We had no idea who this yokel is.”
Sheriff Urquhart said Agnew submitted another unaffiliated request on Oct. 7, which was again denied.
“To our discredit, perhaps, we didn’t use the Google, to Google this guy’s name,” Urquhart said. “Turns out that he is a security representative based in Seattle for the NFL.”
“But he never told us that,” he said. “The NFL never told us that. At no time has the NFL ever filed a written public disclosure request for any of these files. Period. It’s never happened.”
Sheriff John Urquhart said his office received several phone calls from a woman who identified herself as security for the NFL, but that she received the same answer — it was an open investigation. Same went for a Seattle police officer who claimed to work for the NFL. Urquhart said if the league had gone through proper public disclosure channels, the request would have gone straight to Urquhart, who would have been able to help out more.
“I would have said exactly the same thing, ‘We cannot release the case file.’ But since this is a hot-button item in the NFL, since it’s the NFL, we probably would have told them orally a little bit more about what we had …” he said. “We’ve got some goofus from Woodinville named Rob Agnew asking for the case file. We have no idea who he is.”
Urquhart said he would have told the NFL to “be careful.”
“We would have told them… ‘Be careful, NFL, don’t rush into this. This case is blossoming way more than what happened on May 22 of 2015. We’re getting more information, be careful,'” he said. “Again, we’re not gonna give them specifics but we certainly would have cautioned the NFL to be careful about what they were going to do.”
Now that the investigation is closed, the documents have been released, Urquhart said, adding that there were “dozens” of pending public disclosure requests for the case file.
Urquhart is fired up by the conflict with the NFL.
“I don’t like the NFL taking shots at the sheriff’s office when it’s not deserved,” he said. “It’s real simple.”
Urquhart said the NFL never contacted them about their concerns before issuing their statement. He said privacy is important in these types of cases.
“I’m all about transparency and I talk about that all the time but transparency stops when it compromises an investigation and no open investigation will we ever give out to anybody,” he said “I don’t care if it’s the NFL, a football player, whomever it is. And that’s exactly what was done in this case. We crossed our I’s, we dotted our T’s. Period.”
Urquhart acknowledged that the league did not have all of the information when the suspension was handed down.
“I’ll give them credit, they did not have all the information. There’s no question about that,” he said. “And, frankly, I’m not criticizing them for only giving him a one-day suspension based on what they knew. What he was arrested for, in the scheme of things, was relatively minor but obviously there was much more under the surface that apparently they did not know and we couldn’t tell them.”
“But for them to say it’s our fault — and it’s not our fault any more than it’s their fault when you get right down to it — for them to say it’s our fault that they only gave them a one-day suspension, that’s just not true,” he said. “That’s what I object to.”
As for what he plans to do now, Urquhart said, laughing: “I’m smart enough not to take on the NFL, Dori, anymore then I already have. There go my season tickets.”