Monday, December 28, 2015

Former federal prosecutor selected to investigate Straub/Cotton situation

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 12:25 PM

Former federal prosecutor selected to investigate Straub/Cotton situation
Kris Cappel

Spokane Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart selected a former federal prosecutor and civil litigator with experience in employment law as the top candidate to investigate the city's handling of sexual harassment allegations against the former police chief, among other issues surrounding the recent scandal in the city. 

The city council will vote to approve the recommendation at its Jan. 4 meeting.

Kris Cappel, an investigator for the Seattle-based Seabold Group, has experience prosecuting and investigating a variety of crimes during her 11-year career as an attorney. As a federal prosecutor in New York, Cappel prosecuted crimes such as fraud, murder, racketeering, drugs, kidnapping, extortion and public corruption. 

Cappel was also hired by the Wenatchee school district to investigate an alleged rape on a high school football trip last year. Her investigation concluded that there were no systemic problems in the district, though supervision on the bus was "lax and ineffective at controlling students' conduct." 

Cappel's investigation in Spokane will focus on the process, policy and timeliness of personnel moves within the police department and the release of public records, as well as the process for city employee complaints and investigations, according to a news release from the city. 

At the center of the investigation is Straub, who was ousted from his position as police chief in September. Since then, details coloring Mayor David Condon's decision have trickled out: former police spokeswoman Monique Cotton accused Straub of sexual harassment in April. She was transferred to a new position in the parks department in May without an formal investigation into her accusations. Police brass have also accused Straub of vulgar and appropriate language, yelling and threats on their jobs. 

Meanwhile, Straub remains on the city's payroll as the highest paid employee. Oh, and then there's the matter of his claim against the city for $4 million

A joint committee made up of Councilwoman Karen Stratton, council attorney Brian McClatchey, Laura McAloon, a private attorney, and City Utility Director Rick Romero continues to narrow the scope of the investigation that will address issues raised in the city council's Nov. 30 letter to the mayor.

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About The Author

Mitch Ryals

Mitch covers cops, crime and courts for the Inlander. He moved to Spokane in 2015 from his hometown of St. Louis, and is a graduate of the University of Missouri. He likes bikes, beer and baseball. And coffee. He dislikes lemon candy, close-mindedness and liars. And temperatures below 40 degrees.