By Lewis Kamb The Seattle Times
BELLEVUE, Washington – An Issaquah woman who accused Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett of sexual assault earlier this year now faces several criminal charges for allegedly making up her claims against the chief and another officer.
Idunn Schneider, 45, was charged Tuesday with two counts each of malicious prosecution and tampering with physical evidence, according to charging papers filed by King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gary Ernsdorff. The charges stem from Schneider’s allegations against both Mylett and former Bellevue officer John Kivlin, whom she accused of domestic assault and related crimes.
Both of the malicious-prosecution counts are felonies; the tampering counts are gross misdemeanors. Schneider, who is not in custody, faces an arraignment on Dec. 31, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Schneider’s attorney did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday afternoon. Mylett declined to comment through his department spokesman.
Jeffrey Cohen, Kivlin’s lawyer, expressed surprise when told by a reporter Tuesday about the charges against Schneider, adding his client hadn’t been made aware of them.
“That’s great,” Cohen said. “I’m glad the prosecutor’s office did that; it was the right thing to do. I think that John would think that there is some justice in this world with her finally being charged, after she went to the ends of the earth to falsely accuse him.”
In late July, Schneider accused Mylett as part of a wide-ranging investigation involving her claims against Kivlin and another Bellevue police officer, both of whom Schneider had met online. Her accusations against Kivlin initially resulted in charges against him. Her separate claims that the other officer sexually assaulted her after a night of drinking also were investigated, but they didn’t lead to charges.
While King County sheriff’s detectives were investigating those claims, Schneider contended Mylett also had sexually assaulted her. The chief was placed on leave in August while Bothell police separately investigated the allegations that Schneider had met the chief on a fetish website for people seeking aggressive sex. She contended Mylett raped her during an October 2016 encounter at his Bothell rental home.
As evidence of the alleged assault, Schneider gave police underwear she purportedly wore that day, according to police records. A DNA test later determined that genetic evidence on the clothing didn’t come from Mylett. Further investigation also showed Mylett and his wife were not living in the rental house at the time of the alleged assault, and that Schneider appeared to fake email exchanges between herself and Mylett setting up their alleged encounter.
After Bothell police cleared Mylett, the City Of Bellevue reinstated him in his job in October. During an emotional news conference, Mylett told reporters the false accusations took a toll on both him and his family, but the chief wouldn’t directly say whether he thought Schneider should face criminal charges.
“I think people should be held accountable for their actions,” he said. “I think the process of the claims that were made against me worked, and I think another process will take place and I am confident that the right decisions will be made.”
By then, prosecutors already had dismissed domestic-violence assault and witness-tampering charges against Kivlin, and opted not to pursue rape charges against the other Bellevue officer whom Schneider had accused. Prosecutors say Schneider had created fake text and email messages purportedly from Kivlin to support her accusations against him.
Because of Schneider’s false claims, Kivlin spent three different stints in jail totaling 49 days, Cohen said. He also split from his wife, resigned from his job and was forced to sell his house, the attorney said. “The toll has just been devastating,” Cohen said.
Although the other Bellevue officer whom Schneider accused was never charged, he also resigned from the police department amid an investigation.
Although false rape claims are rare, Schneider had a history of seeking out men on Craigslist and then falsely reporting consensual encounters with them as a crime to police, according to a King County sheriff’s investigation. She had made false rape accusations twice previously, according to a detective’s probable-cause affidavit dated and filed in court Tuesday.
“Additional facts surfaced in this and other investigations that severely called into question the credibility of Ms. Schneder,” sheriff’s Detective Christy Marsalisi wrote in the affidavit. “The facts include that on two occasions in 2008 and 2009, Ms. Schneider reported to authorities that she’d been the victim of rape. She later admitted that in both instances the allegations were fabrications.”
Because of concerns about Schneider’s mental heath, investigators did not recommend that she be charged with any crime in connection with the previous allegations, a sheriff’s spokesman said in October.
©2018 The Seattle Times