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Troubled times ahead for state Rep. Geoff Simpson
State Rep. Geoff Simpson is facing a high-wall of legal problems in his personal life as he attempts to mount another campaign for his legislative seat in his public life.
The legals troubles for Simpson became a criminal issue when the Seattle City Attorney’s office filed charges against him for gross misdemeanor assault, stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred at Seattle Children’s Hospital May 22.
Simpson, a Democrat, has served for 10 years in the state House representing the 47th District and was a member of the Covington City Council prior to being elected to the Legislature. He has worked as a firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Kent Fire Department for the past 25 years and lives in Covington.
The representative is being challenged by two Republicans, Nancy Wyatt and Mark Hargrove, in the Aug. 17 primary. The state’s top two primary system means the two candidates with the most votes advance to the Nov. 2 general election regardless of party affiliation.
The May 22 incident centered on Simpson’s 12-year-old daughter who was in Children’s recovering from surgery. The surgery occurred May 19.
Simpson and his ex-wife were married for 25 years. Divorce proceeding began in 2005 and became final in 2008. King County Superior Court documents point to a stormy relationship with the most recent disagreements including the course of the medical treatment for the daughter.
According to a Seattle Police Department report, the daughter was upset about a voice mail message Simpson played in front of her. The message was from his ex-wife.
The police report noted the daughter, “...asked that he not return to visit her while she is in the hospital.”
The report detailed the following in a statement from his ex-wife: that Simpson entered the hospital at about 1 p.m. May 22 and went to the daughter’s room; that Simpson’s ex-wife tried to stop him and he “pushed her out of the way and back into the room;” that his ex-wife told him he needed to leave and Simpson refused; and that Simpson “pushed her out of the room and used the door to force her all the way out.”
In the report the ex-wife stated Simpson “barricaded the door and shut the blinds.”
A social worker for Children’s described the incident as the ex-wife did, according to the police report.
The social worker said she saw Simpson “barrel” into the room, push his ex-wife out, shut the door, close the blinds and barricade himself in the room. The social worker reported Simpson could be heard yelling inside the room.
According to the police report, Simpson emerged after a few minutes and refused to surrender his “ID/Lanyard” to the Children’s security officer. The lanyard granted him access to the hospital.
The Seattle police officer called to the scene wrote in the report he “completed a trespass card” on Simpson “to be put on file.”
The police report was forwarded to the Seattle City Attorney and assault charges were filed July 8. The preliminary hearing is set for 2:30 p.m. July 26.
According to spokeswoman Kimberly Mills of the city attorney’s office, a gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Simpson’s ex-wife filed a temporary order for protection May 27 in King County Superior Court, which was granted. At a June 10 hearing the order was extended to July 29 when the two are scheduled for a hearing in family court.
Simpson responded to the incident at Children’s in a declaration to the Superior Court stating his ex-wife refused to let him talk to their daughter while she was in the hospital. “I was met at the door by Petitioner who grabbed my arm and tried to pull me from the room,” Simpson stated. “I pulled my arm away from Petitioner who stumbled backward a few steps, remaining on her feet. Petitioner then left the room and I shut the door behind her.”
In the declaration Simpson stated he had a “short and calm conversation with our daughter while standing at the door.”
During a phone interview July 8, Simpson said May 22 was his court-appointed day to see his daughter.
In a July 8 press release Simpson stated, “If there were any truth in the accusations made against me, I would immediately resign my seat in the legislature. I believe strongly that there is no excuse for domestic violence and our system should always err on the side of protecting victims. Unfortunately, I also know that the system can be misused.”
During a phone interview Tuesday, July 13, Simpson said if he is found guilty of the charges he will resign his seat.
Simpson said he is not guilty, “I absolutely believe what I said (in the release).”
Past legal hurdles
Simpson previously faced fourth-degree assault charges stemming from an April 2008 domestic violence incident involving his ex-wife. The charges were dropped without prejudice and a no-contact order was recalled. Covington Prosecutor Thomas Hargan wrote in the motion, “the City no longer believes it has sufficient evidence to go forward with the charges herein.”
Charges dropped without prejudice can be filed again at a later date.
During a July 3 phone interview Simpson stated, “Every two years she (his ex-wife) tries to get more money during (an) election. She was asking for more money.”
Simpson also stated his belief that anyone can take a temporary protection order or restraining order out against another person.
“I can go tomorrow and get a retraining order against you,” Simpson said during the phone interview. He stated he could get the restraining order for phone harassment.
During the July 8 phone interview, Simpson stated he could get a restraining order with “no questions asked” and it could be weeks later before there would be a hearing on the matter.
When asked if he intended to change the laws on protection orders if re-elected, Simpson stated, “I’ve got more important things to do then mess around with these laws. I still support our domestic violence laws.”
Simpson said his ex-wife “continually threatens me. The documents show all past violations have been dismissed.”
When asked if he felt any responsibility, he said, “I take responsibility for not understanding what I’ve already been through and not to be anywhere near her.”
Simpson said, “I committed the sin of visiting my daughter who just had surgery.”
In seeking a protection order, Simpson’s ex-wife said he had assaulted her at Children’s and she is, “...afraid for my safety and the safety of our children. Given the extreme nature of Mr. Simpson’s threats while in a very public setting as well as a history of previous violence and arrest, I am concerned about what may happen once our daughter and I are home and not under the watchful eye of Children’s Hospital.”
Simpson stated in his superior court declaration, “Despite the Petitioner’s allegations, many of which have already been disposed of by this court in previous proceedings, I am not and have never been a threat to our children or anyone else.”