Auburn

Auburn officer resigns, enters plea to assaulting pregnant woman

Auburn officer resigns, enters plea to assaulting pregnant woman
Hannah Thompson
AUBURN, Wash. -- An former Auburn police officer who was accused of groping a pregnant and handcuffed woman entered an Alford plea Monday to a charge of fourth degree assault.

The Alford plea means Clemmons doesn't admit guilt, but concedes there is enough evidence for a jury to convict him. He was given a 24-month deferred sentence and ordered to do 80 hours of community service with the promise not to seek future employment in law enforcement.

The incident happened around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 27, when officer John Clemmons said he saw a woman drive away from the Sports Page Tavern, followed her to her nearby home and detained her on suspicion of DUI and other traffic-related offenses, Auburn Police said.

But the victim told KOMO News she got an uncomfortable feeling when she spotted Clemmons as she left the bar.

"I had made eye contact with him and I kind of got just a weird vibe," she said in an interview after the incident.

She said she drove away, and the officer followed her the two blocks to her house.

"When I went to get out of the car he was like, 'Get back in the car,' and this whole time I didn't even know he was behind me. His lights weren't on or nothing," Thompson said.

Thompson claims the officer accused her of trying to elude him.

"He asked if I had something to drink, I said I had a glass of wine earlier at the Muckleshoot. I'm pregnant and can't drink," she said.

She said the officer administered sobriety tests, then handcuffed her and put her in his patrol car. Thompson claims the officer said she smelled like pot and he would have to search her.

"He went down my shirt in the front, underneath the wire," she said.

Thompson said the officer never looked in her jacket or back pockets, but did put his hand down the front of her pants.

"He started at the left side and went to the right side, and as he got to the front he kind of went down further," she said.

Thompson began crying and the officer took off her handcuffs, but told her he wanted more information.

"He asked, like, three different times if he could come inside," Thompson said.

In announcing the charges Monday, Auburn police contend there was probable cause for Clemmons to pull Thompson over and while he did reach under her clothing, he "did not grope any of the woman's intimate parts." But investigators did determine that Clemmons did violate department procedures while searching her during the traffic stop.

Clemmons, who had been on administrative leave since the incident, pleaded guilty Monday to the misdemeanor assault charge and resigned as a police officer.

Meanwhile, Thompson's fiance said she's been stressed out and depressed and miscarried a week after the incident.