Former Auburn police officer pleads guilty to inappropriate pat down of woman

A former Auburn Police Officer pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to inappropriately patting down a woman while she was in his patrol car last January under the excuse that he was investigating her for drunken driving.

The King County Prosecutor filed 4th-degree assault charges against John Michael Clemmons Friday. He appeared in court Monday afternoon at the King County Regional Justice Center, pleaded guilty as charged and was sentenced.

"It was a 24-month deferred sentence, plus 80 hours community service, and he agreed to forfeit his peace officer certification," said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office. "He will no longer be employed in law enforcement."

Clemmons resigned from the Auburn Police Department earlier this month.

According to court documents, Clemmons was on duty Jan. 27 in his patrol car across from the Sports Page Tavern when he saw a woman drive away from it. Without activating his emergency lights, Clemmons followed the woman to her residence where he detained her on suspicion of DUI and other traffic-related offenses.

According to court documents, Clemmons handcuffed the woman and placed her in the back seat of his patrol car. Once in the car, court documents say, Clemmons told the woman he could arrest her for eluding, and when she pleaded with him not to take her to jail asked her what she would be willing to do. She took his question as a request for a sexual favor but evaded the topic by offering never to drink and drive again.

According to court documents, Clemmons later told the woman he smelled "weed" and would have to search her.

He then inappropriately searched her, reaching under some clothing, including her blouse, bra and pants. At one point he pulled her waistband out and illuminated the inside of her pants with his flashlight.

Before leaving Clemmons asked her for her phone number and to enter her residence. She ended the encounter and went into her house alone.

"Although he did not grope the woman's private parts, he did violate department policies and procedures while searching her and during the traffic stop," said Auburn Police Commander Mike Hirman.

Clemmons was placed on paid administrative leave after the incident while the Puyallup Police Department conducted an independent criminal

investigation, coordinating its efforts with the King County Prosecutor's Office.

"Although the actions by Clemmons were not training issues, the Police Department has taken steps to insure all staff members understand the

policies and procedures that were violated and the importance of complying with them. The Auburn Police Department takes these complaints seriously and will not tolerate this sort of behavior," Hirman said.

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