Island County settles 911 case for $150,000

Island County's insurance pool has reached a $150,000 settlement with the woman who was allegedly held captive in a Freeland cabin three years ago, an attorney in the case said Monday.

The 2006 incident was one of the biggest scandals in memory for the Island County Sheriff's Office.

Victoria Walker told police she was held against her will and assaulted by Matthew Friar, a childhood friend, during their stay at his family's summer home on Shoreview Drive in February 2006. She called 911 twice, but the deputy who responded to the first call left without talking to anyone in the cabin and never came back when Walker called for police for help a second time.

Walker escaped from the home the morning after she was held captive and called police from a stranger's cellphone at nearby Freeland Park.

Jay Wallace, the deputy on duty who was supposed to respond to the 911 calls, was later fired and the controversy over the 911 calls derailed his campaign for county sheriff.

Walker filed a $250,000 claim for damages against Island County on Nov. 12, 2008.

In the claim, she said Wallace was negligent in responding to the 911 calls, and said the county had not properly trained and supervised its officers. Wallace 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.

Her claim sought $150,000 for negligence, $50,0000 for outrage and $50,000 in punitive damages. A damage claim is a necessary first step before a lawsuit can be filed.

Alex Ransom, a criminal defense lawyer based in Bellingham and Walker's attorney, said the Washington Counties Risk Pool agreed to settle the case on behalf of Island County for $150,000 on Feb. 4.

Ransom said Walker repeatedly told him the case was never about money.

"She just wants to make sure that this kind of thing never happens again," he said.

He added that county officials handled Walker's claim and the ensuing negotiations with professionalism and dignity.

"They got rid of their glaring problem and that was Deputy Wallace," he said.

"Everybody's happy and that's really what justice is about," Ransom said.

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