SOUTH BEND — Pacific County Sheriff’s Office Chief Civil Deputy Matthew Padgett is the focus of another criminal investigation into his conduct.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office was asked to investigate harassment allegation complaints made by a Shoalwater Bay Police Department officer and a former Raymond Police Department officer.
Both allegations followed a previous investigation by the Washington State Patrol, which cleared him of criminal wrongdoing.
All the allegations concerned events that happened prior to him being appointed as PCSO chief civil deputy by his brother-in-law, Sheriff Robin Souvenir.
The first probe
The Shoalwater Bay Police Department had contracted the Washington State Patrol in September 2018 to investigate allegations of misconduct, sexual harassment and bullying by Padgett toward officers inside and outside the agency.
Shoalwater Police Department Officer Sarah Boggs made the initial complaint in August 2018 accusing Padgett of misusing comp time and sexually harassing an officer during a 2016 training exercise.
The alleged victim was reportedly handcuffed to a steel bar by Padgett. He was accused of making provocative comments towards her.
The officer, who has requested her name be withheld, told both investigators and the Herald that Padgett did not harass or assault her during the training exercise and they both remain friends. Pictures from the training have surfaced showing several officers including the alleged victim and officers smiling and laughing.
The only allegation against Padgett found to be accurate was the use of an “offensive slur” during a meeting of which he openly admits he used.
No record of disciplinary action taken against Padgett by then-Shoalwater Chief Souvenir has been found. At the time of the alleged comment — roughly a year prior to the WSP investigation — no complaint was filed by any officers in attendance until August 2018.
The WSP investigation focused on allegations of bullying and sexual harassment. It concluded that there was no evidence of criminal conduct, but highlighted that Padgett used a blunt communication style and vulgar language that alienated some of his colleagues.
Before the investigation by WSP was completed, former Shoalwater Bay CEO Mike Rogers reached out requesting information about the investigation and to inform WSP that Padgett had been terminated.
Padgett was later allowed to resign after an outpouring of support from the community.
Since the investigation, it has been learned Rogers is no longer CEO of the Shoalwater Tribe. The tribe has been unavailable for comment and the reservation is not subject to public records request laws.
The new complaint regarding Padgett focused on accusations of harassment and bullying. According to investigation records supplied to the Herald, Boggs reported another complaint to the sheriff’s office in December 2018, accusing Padgett of making false statements that were libelous and slanderous about her.
She had been contacted the day prior by former Sheriff Scott Johnson and informed he had heard a rumor, “Sarah steals from the food bank.”
A video had reportedly been circulating that showed Boggs leaving the Shoalwater Bay Police Department with items in her hands along with a phrase similar to, “Officer Boggs stealing from the food bank, I wonder what else she steals from?”
Another complaint was filed prior by former Raymond Police Department Officer Sean Jarvis in November 2018 after Padgett reached out via text message and Facebook messenger requesting Jarvis to essentially “keep his wife under control.”
Jarvis’s wife, Ashley, had made a Facebook post critical of a police department after she observed several officers standing in the road on the Fourth of July.
The investigation began in February 2019 after Undersheriff Ron Davis called in an outside agency to remove any conflict of interest.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation with Detective Gabriel Frase interviewing Boggs, Jarvis and Padgett.
All along, Boggs maintained the items she was holding in the video were items she had purchased. Much of the questioning looked into why Padgett decided to share the video and who he contacted.
The messaging controversy with Jarvis concluded in November 2018, although investigators learned that several messages had been deleted. Jarvis resigned in lieu of termination from the Raymond Police Department.
In conclusion, Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer wrote to Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain and Sheriff Souvenir.
He cleared Padgett of all criminal wrongdoing and noted that Boggs asked Padgett not be charged. She had told Frase during the investigation, “I don’t want him to get in any trouble, I just want him out of my life.”
Meyer’s letter concluded that while there were no criminal actions, Padgett “shows a complete lack of insight as to his own actions, and a lack of professionalism.”
Afterward, Padgett noted, “I know I didn’t handle the situation perfectly, I made mistakes throughout. But to be characterized as a monster and lose a career working for a community I love was excruciating and I reacted impulsively to defend myself.”