Rape suspect’s wife could have faced charges for moving SUV
A report into the actions of Jennifer Grant, the attorney-wife of Seattle lawyer Danford Grant, in the days after his 2012 arrest on multiple counts of rape found that she potentially could have been charged with obstructing a police investigation and evidence tampering.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A report into the actions of the wife of Seattle lawyer Danford Grant in the days after his September 2012 arrest on multiple counts of rape found that she potentially could have been charged with obstructing a police investigation and evidence tampering by moving his vehicle.
The report by a Seattle law firm — written in June but only recently made public — noted that Jennifer Grant, who is also an attorney and worked for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office at the time, found that the office could be justified in concluding she “engaged in a major disciplinary offense” and that her failure to fully disclose her involvement in moving her husband’s Honda Pilot resulted in “a serious breach of trust.”
Jennifer Grant left the City Attorney’s Office in July. In September, she was appointed as a pro tem magistrate for the Seattle Municipal Court, a position that pays $44.71 per hour, said court spokesman Gary Ireland. Unlike judges, magistrates are not elected and Grant is restricted to hearing matters involving civil traffic or parking infractions, he said.
“Ms. Grant was appointed after an extensive evaluation of her qualifications, standing with the Washington State Bar Association and a criminal-background check.” Ireland said Monday.
However, the Municipal Court judges who appointed her didn’t know about the investigation commissioned by the City Attorney’s Office and did not receive a redacted copy of the investigative report until Monday morning, Ireland said. He could not immediately say whether Grant’s appointment to the bench could be impacted by the report.
A portion of the report was included in a motion filed Dec. 24 by King County prosecutors involved in the criminal case against Danford Grant, raising concerns of a potential conflict with Grant’s defense team.
The conflict revolves around discussions between Jennifer Grant and Danford Grant’s then-defense attorney David Allen in the days after her husband’s arrest on Sept. 24, 2012. Those discussions also centered on Jennifer Grant moving her husband’s Pilot from where it was parked near a Greenwood massage clinic where two of Danford Grant’s alleged victims worked and where a third is a former employee.
Because of the potential conflict, Allen’s law partner, Richard Hansen, took over Grant’s defense and built a “firewall” around Allen to ensure his longtime business partner would not be involved in the criminal case against Grant, Hansen told Judge Mary Yu during Monday’s hearing.
During the hearing, Danford Grant acknowledged the potential conflicts and signed a waiver saying he wants his attorneys — Hansen, Cooper Offenbecher and Jack Guthrie — to continue representing him.
Allen potentially could be called to testify at Danford Grant’s trial, which could create a possible conflict for Hansen, given the two men have a personal, professional and financial relationship spanning three decades, the court heard. Yu, calling the hearing “unusual,” questioned both Hansen and Grant to ensure Hansen could “be a zealous advocate” for his client.
Hansen said he could, and Grant told the judge he is confident Hansen “is fiercely loyal to me.”
While Jennifer Grant could not be called to testify against her husband unless Danford Grant waives spousal privilege, Yu said there “could be a scenario” in which Allen is called to testify without violating attorney-client privilege.
The court is dealing “with the world of hypotheticals right now,” Yu said. There is “a potential conflict coming in the future.”
Danford Grant has been charged with seven felonies, including four counts of first-degree rape involving alleged assaults on massage therapists in Bellevue, Shoreline and Seattle between June and September 2012, according to charging documents. He is also charged with second-degree rape, attempted second-degree rape and first-degree burglary.
Grant posted $1 million bail and has been on electronic-home detention since November 2012.
Jennifer Grant, who was hired by the City Attorney’s Office in 1996, resigned her position as a supervising assistant city prosecutor in July, a month after the report into her actions after her husband’s arrest was completed.
Kimberly Mills, a spokeswoman for City Attorney Pete Holmes, declined to say if Grant resigned in lieu of termination, citing an office policy against commenting on personnel issues.
Jennifer Grant could not be reached Monday for comment.
The Seattle law firm of Garvey Schubert Barer was retained by the City Attorney’s Office to conduct the investigation after media reports that Jennifer Grant had moved her husband’s vehicle and removed a key card from inside it after his arrest, the report says.
Jennifer Grant has not been charged with a crime, nor is she the subject of a bar complaint, according to court records in her husband’s criminal case.
The 40-page document concluded that Jennifer Grant had no legal justification to move her husband’s vehicle and potentially could have faced criminal charges.
The report also found that while Jennifer Grant “was operating under extreme stress” and on legal advice, “one can conclude” her conduct violated her duties and responsibilities, as well as expectations of her as a supervising assistant city attorney.
The Seattle Times received an unredacted copy of the report from the City Attorney’s Office on Monday in response to a public-disclosure request.
Prosecutors previously had reported that Jennifer Grant had moved her husband’s vehicle from near the Greenwood clinic to Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood on Allen’s advice. Even though Allen told her not to take anything out of the vehicle, she reportedly removed and then returned a key card to access the parking garage at her husband’s law firm.
But the report from the City Attorney’s Office for the first time included the detail that Jennifer Grant had the Pilot moved to a relative’s house in Auburn, where it stayed for two days. The vehicle was returned to Seattle after a search warrant was issued for Danford Grant’s house and vehicle, but Jennifer Grant ignored a police detective’s phone calls and her personal attorney, Drue Kirby-Coats, didn’t disclose the vehicle’s whereabouts to police for several weeks, the report says.
In addition to her husband’s key card, Jennifer Grant later told the investigating attorneys, she had removed her husband’s wedding ring from the vehicle but put it back, according to the report.
But the search warrants filed in the case make no mention of a wedding ring being found in the vehicle, and a wedding ring does not appear in any police photographs of the vehicle’s interior, court records say.
A BB gun, a black stocking cap, a bottle of the erectile-dysfunction medication Cialis, disinfectant wipes and electronic equipment — including thumb drives, a video camera and a GPS device — were among the items police seized from Danford Grant’s vehicle.
In November 2012, Jennifer Grant filed a petition for legal separation from her husband in Snohomish County Superior Court.
However, Danford Grant said in a declaration that was filed last week as part of his King County criminal case that their pending dissolution is “dormant” and “we remain married and share the same house with our children and my mother.”
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or email@example.com