A Pasco police officer who had been on leave for two years is back on the beat after criminal charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence.
Anthony J. Haworth recently saw the final two counts in his Franklin County Superior Court case dismissed with prejudice.
That means the case is permanently done and cannot be brought back to court, even if new evidence or witnesses come to light involving the off-duty allegations.
“Allowing this case to hang in limbo accomplishes nothing other than to exacerbate the emotional distress being suffered by Anthony Haworth, and his family,” wrote defense attorney William A. Gilbert in a court document. “There is not sufficient evidence to support a conviction in this case — and there never has been.”
Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant did not object to the motion to dismiss with prejudice.
Pasco police Chief Deputy Ken Roske confirmed to the Herald that Haworth has returned to work and is assigned to patrol.
He did not know Haworth’s exact return date but said it was in the past month.
Paid leave since spring 2017
Haworth, now 40, had been on paid administrative leave since the spring of 2017. He was charged that May with four felony sex crimes, including third-degree rape, indecent liberties and voyeurism.
The rape and voyeurism were dismissed in February 2018 when a judge determined the statute of limitations had expired on the alleged crimes.
Then in December, Sant moved to drop the other charges after Walla Walla County prosecutors withdrew from handling the case and an initial review by the Adams County prosecutor determined the government could not meet its burden at trial.
“It would be in furtherance of justice and in the best interest of the public to dismiss the charges against (Haworth) herein,” Sant wrote in his motion to dismiss.
Gilbert, a Spokane-based lawyer, asked for the permanent dismissal once Adams County prosecutors wrapped up their independent assessment and concluded the evidence was not there to prosecute Haworth.
Teen claimed sexual assault
Haworth initially was accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl several times between 2008 and 2013.
Prosecutors said it happened after Haworth and the teen drank alcohol together.
The girl told investigators she was both unconscious and awake when Haworth took advantage of her, according to court documents.
Several nude photographs of the teen allegedly were found on Haworth’s electronic devices. The girl said she had taken them for a boyfriend, but later deleted them and didn’t know how Haworth got them, documents said.
He denied the claims, saying they were motivated by his divorce.
A trial on the remaining two charges started in March 2018 but came to an abrupt end in the middle of jury selection.
Gilbert and the other defense attorney, Etoy Alford Jr. of Yakima, were sanctioned $2,500 for their late disclosure about a witness deployed to Japan. They had hoped to have the witness testify via Skype, but prosecutors told the judge they had not yet had the opportunity to interview the witness.
Special prosecutors appointed
The Walla Walla County Prosecutor’s Office was handling the case because of a potential conflict with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office and the Pasco Police Department.
Prosecutor Jim Nagle filed a notice of withdrawal as special prosecutor in early December, so Sant turned to Adams County for help.
Sant dismissed the case while awaiting the Adams County review, with the understanding the defense would push to end the case once and for all if the assessment found there was not sufficient evidence to support the charges.
Peter Palubicki, Adams County’s chief deputy prosecutor, took three months to evaluate all the police reports, transcripts, recorded interviews, court proceedings and other relevant information.
Palubicki and Prosecutor Randy J. Flyckt concluded in a two-page letter on March 15 that it likely would be impossible to prove “the substance of the allegations” and declined to take on the case.
“We have determined that the totality of the evidence available to the state falls well short of any reasonable probability of meeting the state’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Palubicki and Flyckt wrote.
Not ‘in the interest of justice’
“We further determine that any additional litigation in this matter would not be in the interest of justice, and contrary to the best use of prosecutorial and judicial resources,” they added. “As such, this office recommends that this matter not be refiled, and that such be regarded as a declined investigation due to insufficient evidence.”
The Adams County prosecutors said their letter should not be interpreted as a comment by their office of whether the allegations in question did or did not occur.
Sant told the Herald that he was in a unusual position recently because, even though he was not involved in the case, he had to make the call to the alleged victim letting her know what the Adams County prosecutors had concluded.
“I let her know this was their recommendation,” he said,” and obviously she’s upset.”
‘Unjustifiably dragged on’
Gilbert, in his dismissal motion, pointed out just how many people had vetted the case and determined the evidence did not support the allegations.
Haworth also was cleared in an internal review by his own agency.
“This case has now unjustifiably dragged on for almost two years,” Gilbert said.
He said for the time that Haworth was suspended: the Pasco Police department was a man short on shift rotation; taxpayers paid for an officer who was not in uniform protecting their interests; and Haworth was restricted from contact with friends, peers and the public.
Also, Haworth’s family had to put up with a nightmare “that was inexcusably initiated by an overzealous prosecutor relying on an incomplete and unreliable investigation.”