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Victim in 911 case seeks a quarter million dollars from county
The woman who was allegedly held captive in a Freeland cabin nearly three years ago has filed a $250,000 claim against Island County, accusing the Island County Sheriff’s Office of negligence and casting the deputy who responded to her 911 calls for help as unfit to be a police officer.
Victoria Walker told police she was held against her will and assaulted by Matthew Friar during their stay at his family’s summer home on Shoreview Drive in February 2006. The incident led to one of the biggest scandals in recent history for the sheriff’s office after it was revealed a sheriff’s deputy visited the house twice in response to 911 calls from the home, but never talked to anyone at the cabin before leaving. Walker escaped from the home the morning after she said she was held captive and called police from nearby Freeland Park.
Jay Wallace, the deputy who responded to the 911 calls, was later fired and the controversy over the 911 calls derailed his campaign for county sheriff.
Walker, 29, said in her claim for damages that Wallace was negligent in responding to the 911 calls and said the county had not properly trained and supervised its officers. She said she had suffered “severe and serious injuries” because of the incident, as well as mental anguish, shame, humiliation, indignity and a loss of employment. Walker has worked as a part-time delivery driver, according to court records.
Her claim seeks $150,000 for negligence, $50,0000 for outrage and $50,000 in punitive damages. Walker named three detectives in the case as potential witnesses, as well as Wallace and another sheriff’s deputy who responded to the cabin the day Walker escaped.
A damage claim is a necessary first step before a lawsuit can be filed, and gives local governments the chance to reach a settlement before a court case ensues.
Walker is being represented by Alex Ransom, a criminal defense lawyer based in Bellingham. He declined to comment on the case Tuesday.
Walker told police she had called 911 twice before she escaped. Wallace came to the door after the first 911 call and knocked on the door of the cabin, then left. He was at home in Greenbank getting lunch when Walker’s second 911 call came in, but he never went back to the cabin to check out the call.
Wallace told a 911 dispatcher on the night of the 911 calls that he saw a man run into the living room, put on a pair of pants, then run to the back of the home and wouldn’t come to the door. He later said he had actually seen a naked woman, who grabbed a pair of jeans, hop around on one foot as she tried to put them on, and then run to what looked like a rear bedroom in the cabin. Wallace said the woman never appeared to be in danger and was partying in the Freeland cabin.
Friar was initially charged on three separate counts - unlawful imprisonment, harassment with threats to kill, and fourth-degree domestic violence assault, but the case never went to trial.
The investigation into the incident began to unravel, according to police records in the case, when Walker failed to show up for interviews with police. She also refused to give details on her claim that she had been sexually assaulted by Friar. And police couldn’t find her for later interviews after she was kicked out of a women’s shelter on Whidbey in the days following the cabin incident for not following house rules.
Later, Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks dismissed the case and said it would not be re-filed.
Friar was sent to Bellingham on outstanding warrants. He died of a heroin overdose in Portland, Ore. in October 2007.
The claim was filed Nov. 12. Walker said the amount of damages she is seeking was set by her attorney.
Walker said she waited to file the claim because she was worried for the safety of her family.
“The reason why I didn’t file a long time ago was for the protection of my son,” she said, adding that it wasn’t until Friar was dead that she thought it would be safe to file a claim against Island County.
“The other reason why I filed was to prove a point,” Walker said.
Walker hung up on a reporter when asked to elaborate, and then disconnected her phone to avoid additional calls for comment.
Walker had known Friar since they were both kids, and they once shared a romantic relationship. Walker, a Bellingham resident, has had an extensive history with the police.
Public records show she has had a history of mental health problems, and had been arrested nine times in the years before the Freeland incident.
She also made a similar claim of being held against her will in an incident in King County that police later said was unfounded.
Walker also has told police she willingly visited the Friars’ family cabin in Freeland to help Friar avoid arrest on a warrant in Bellingham. She knew that Friar was a drug abuser with a violent past; she was warned by his friends and family before she came to Whidbey with him, including a Bellingham woman who had been assaulted by Friar almost four months to the day before the night of the Freeland 911 calls.
The night of her alleged assault, she also told police both she and Friar had taken prescription drugs and had been drinking.
It’s the second damage claim to be filed in the case. Wallace filed a $1.5 million claim against the county in February 2008, which alleged his firing by then-Sheriff Mike Hawley was politically motivated.
Wallace told the Whidbey News-Times he stands by his side of the story; he has doggedly maintained the woman he saw through the window that night did not appear to be in jeopardy.
“She’s caused enough trouble. Everything she said is a lie and I can tear her apart in court,” Wallace said. “I don’t think the county has anything to worry about. I spent 30 years telling the truth and I’m not going to stop now.”