In what certainly qualifies as one of 2018’s bigger shocks to the Olympia political scene, documents revealed yesterday show that incumbent state Rep. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek) was investigated four times in the 1990s for abuse, including child sexual abuse. None of the investigations resulted in charges.
Documents from one of those investigations were posted yesterday to thelovickfiles.com, a campaign site by Lovick’s Republican opponent, former Snohomish County Councilmember Jeff Sax. While documents from the three other investigations were either destroyed or won’t be released by agencies, the documents Sax posted Thursday reference the other investigations.
Lovick denied the allegations. “It did not happen,” he told the Everett Herald. The paper wrote, “He also provided statements from two of his children in which they recant accusations they leveled against their father nearly three decades ago as teenagers.”
Foster parent bid brought some allegations to light
The posted abuse allegations came out of a 1996 background investigation, when Lovick applied to be a foster parent. Also in 1996, a therapist treated a patient who said Lovick sexually abused her when she was a child. The therapist found the allegations to be credible, and they were passed on to state Child Protective Services (CPS).
CPS informed police of its own investigation and the therapist’s referral. Because Lovick was then a Mill Creek city councilmember, that city’s police asked the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to handle the investigation. Lovick worked then as a Washington State Patrol trooper. When CPS brought up the allegations, Lovick dropped his bid to be a foster parent.
Lovick was accused of physical as well as sexual abuse, but physical abuse charges were not pursued because, a Snohomish detective’s report noted, “they were well past the statute of limitations for criminal charges to be filed.” That same report notes that Mill Creek police had investigated abuse allegations against Lovick in 1994 but it didn’t appear “that the sexual abuse allegations…had been investigated” at the time.
Therapist’s referral revealed troubling info
The CPS report notes the therapist said the alleged victim “would close down when the issue was brought up” and “‘knows [Lovick] has done things’ but she’s ‘blocked it out’. The only disclosure that she made was that [Lovick] would come into the bathroom and watch her bathe…She also said she remembers [Lovick] coming into her bedroom and she would be scared.”
The allegations in the CPS report get weirder. While also reiterating the bathing story, Lovick’s former wife Deborah Lovick said she would “get up at night and find that John had gone into [the child’s] bedroom and was at her bedside masturbating.”
The detective’s report from 1996 noted said the alleged victim “told me she does not want to pursue this, as far as she’s concerned, it’s in the past and she doesn’t want to bring it up again.”
A handwritten letter at the time from ex-wife Deborah Lovick to the detective noted, “I did not witness anything except two occasions of him standing beside her bed at night (late) in the nude masturbating.”
She also expressed skepticism that the allegations, even if the alleged victim were willing to testify, would advance. “John is a good friend of Mark Rowe’s (prosecutor), so I’d be surprised if this goes anywhere. He’s well liked on the job, even though he was Jekyll/Hyde at home.”
Implications for November?
While long whispered about in Snohomish political circles, Lovick had managed to keep the allegations largely under wraps. The Mill Creek Democrat is instantly recognizable to TVW viewers from his hundreds of hours presiding over the state House as speaker pro tem and now deputy speaker pro tem.
While a state representative, Lovick was elected Snohomish County Sheriff in 2007 and later appointed as Snohomish County Executive when Aaron Reardon resigned in 2013. He is serving a second stint in the House after losing the Executive race to current incumbent Dave Somers in 2015.
Everett Herald reporter Jerry Cornfield explained the paper’s decision not to print the allegations when they were recently brought its attention:
Two of his children — whose names are not mentioned in any of the 11 pages posted Thursday — sent statements to the paper. They also responded to follow-up questions by phone and email. Editors at The Herald decided to not publish a story at the time because a person listed as the victim denied any illicit acts occurred.
Lovick led Jeff Sax 57.2% to 42.8% in the August primary. Whether the reports are enough to shake up the race remains to be seen. Sax said in a statement, “I feel morally compelled to make these records public. If I keep this information hidden like it has been for 20 years, and then something were to happen to a child, I could never forgive myself.”