In a public hearing on Friday December 7th, Judge Beth Andrus ruled that Enumclaw Police Detective Grant McCall had wrongfully deleted emails, failed to respond adequately to a subpoena, and did not provide proper discovery of other significant email communications in the case of Malcolm Fraser, an assistant pastor at Sound Doctrine Church. The Court also questioned Detective McCall’s judgment and objectivity in relation to the case. Judge Andrus stated:
“The Court concludes that his personal religious opposition to what he perceives is the theology of Sound Doctrine Church may be affecting his judgment in this regard.”
Mr. Fraser’s attorney filed a Motion to Dismiss for Governmental Misconduct on November 13, 2012. It identified Detective Grant McCall as the primary perpetrator of the misconduct, and highlighted the influence of former Enumclaw resident Athena Dean and the alleged victim’s mother, Jessica Gambill. It was demonstrated in court that both Ms. Dean’s and Ms. Gambill’s extreme hostility towards Sound Doctrine Church predated the accusations against Mr. Fraser, and so their communications with Detective McCall were wrongfully withheld.
“The fact that MC’s mother and aunt’s mother-in-law expressed such strong negative feelings about Malcolm Fraser, for reasons unrelated to MC’s disclosure, make it at least possible that, as the Defense suggests, MC was somehow influenced by these women in recalling events that would have occurred when she was a fairly young child.”
A specific email, written on May 14th, 2012, by Detective McCall and sent to Mr. Fraser’s mother in Scotland, also emerged as a key point in the hearing. In the email, Detective McCall describes Sound Doctrine Church as “evil and twisted” and also states the church is “completely without the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” He also quotes several passages from the Bible and makes slanderous comments about Sound Doctrine’s retired pastor, Timothy Williams.
Detective McCall attended the hearing as an evidentiary witness for the King County Prosecutor’s Office and was questioned by Deputy Prosecutor Jason Simmons. They initially presented the email as simply an attempt to build a “rapport” with Mr. Fraser’s mother. However, under cross-examination, it was shown that Mr. Fraser’s mother was already very open and communicative, and so there was no reason to build a “rapport.” Detective McCall was forced to admit the email accurately represented his own personal opinions about the church.
In his closing argument, Mr. Simmons then disavowed the email by stating, “It’s extremely troubling to see somebody use that type of language, and that language in no way is condoned by my office.”
During the court proceedings, both Judge Andrus and Mr. Simmons acknowledged that the prejudicial implications of Detective McCall’s email would be highly significant if the case goes to trial.
Thirty members of Sound Doctrine Church—including adults, teenagers, and children—were present during the entire hearing at Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, to show their support for Mr. Fraser. A church spokesperson said, “We’ve been trying to draw attention to the misconduct and outright hostility towards the church for a long time, so it’s encouraging the judge was able to see the same problems—even after reviewing only a small fraction of the evidence. The prejudice was very clear so, of course, we’re disappointed the judge didn’t go all the way and dismiss the case. But, overall, we’re very happy the judge made the State responsible to take at least some action.”
Forensic Examination Ordered
The Court ordered the King County Prosecutor’s Office to submit Detective McCall’s hard drive and the Enumclaw Police email server to a Forensic Computer Lab for analysis, in an attempt to recover the deleted emails. She also instructed the Prosecutor’s Office to contact Athena Dean and the parents of the alleged victim in order to obtain copies of any email correspondence with Detective McCall. If these individuals refuse to cooperate, the State must serve them with an official subpoena compelling them to produce the emails. All evidence must be provided to the Defense by January 4th, 2013.
In addition, Judge Andrus called special attention to Detective McCall’s failure to provide other Enumclaw Police Department files related to Sound Doctrine Church. These files were under subpoena by the Defense, but Detective McCall responded by claiming he did not have access to other officer’s computers. Judge Andrus stated, “In this Court’s opinion, that’s not a good enough response.” She ordered Enumclaw Police Department to produce these files without any further delay.
Timothy Williams, the publisher of Enumclaw.com and retired pastor of Sound Doctrine Church, said, “This was a positive outcome in many ways, but the real problem is with the legal system itself. The Prosecutor’s Office knew about Detective McCall’s misconduct for a long time and not only did nothing, but tried to defend it in this hearing. They only ‘threw in the towel’ when they were cornered by Detective McCall’s own admissions under cross-examination. And there’s much more evidence they are still ignoring. Whether Malcolm Fraser gets a fair trial or not, it’s clear that the whole process is not fair.”
Mr. Fraser’s case is ongoing and is currently scheduled for trial in January.