Students address decision to not retry Hargraves

ASWSU members support decision not to retry Hargraves, say prosecutor mishandled case



Jhordin Prescott, ASWSU vice president, discusses the ASWSU press release regarding the Dan Hargraves trial case Monday afternoon in the ASWSU office. Prescott says she stands with the statement ASWSU released saying the prosecution failed to represent the victim.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

The Whitman County Prosecutor’s Office and ASWSU addressed the prosecutor’s decision to not retry Jerry Daniel Hargraves for first-degree custodial sexual misconduct.

Hargraves, former Pullman police sergeant, was tried for first-degree custodial sexual misconduct following an incident involving a female WSU student, according to a previous Daily Evergreen article. The trial ended Sept. 19 in a mistrial.

Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said he was considering whether or not to retry Hargraves, according to a previous Daily Evergreen article. ASWSU issued a statement Sept. 30 urging Tracy to retry the case.

The Prosecutor’s Office issued a press release Oct. 10 stating Tracy’s decision to not retry Hargraves. The release said the decision was based on the victim’s refusal to testify again in court.

ASWSU issued a second press release Oct. 10 responding to the decision.

ASWSU Vice President Jhordin Prescott said the press release was drafted by ASWSU members including ASWSU President Quinton Berkompas, ASWSU director of legislative affairs Josh Maasberg and herself. She said a lot of thought went into drafting the statement.

“It was not an emotional response, but there’s a lot of emotions contained in it,” she said.

Tracy said he called Prescott and Berkompas after he issued the press release to inform them directly of his decision.

“I told them, for any other witness in this matter I would not hesitate to compel that witness to appear and testify at trial,” he said. “But for me to do that to the victim here, I believe would truly be to re-victimize her. I’m not going to do that.”

Prescott said she and Berkompas received an email from Tracy and spoke to him later when he called them. She said they talked about possibly meeting to discuss Tracy’s decision, but nothing was planned.

Prescott said ASWSU supports the victim and her decision to not testify against Hargraves. She said there was a substantial amount of evidence that supported the victim’s allegations such as DNA evidence.

Prescott said she stands with ASWSU’s statement that the prosecution failed to represent the victim. She said she does not believe the jury was properly educated during the trial.

She said the prosecution could have done more, such as having a trauma expert testify during the trial.

“I think [Tracy] mishandled this situation, this case,” she said. “I do not think he did his job.”

Tracy said he believes there would have been a different outcome if the case had been retried.

“I understand and would expect that this decision may frustrate a large number of students at WSU,” he said. “It frustrates me. This outcome frustrates me.”

Tracy said he got to know the victim throughout the case. He said he admires her courage and her ability to come forward after the incident. Tracy said he approached her the day of the mistrial and asked her if she was willing to continue with a retrial.

“She thought it over carefully and she’s made her decision,” he said. “I’m going to respect that decision.”

Prescott said despite resigning, Hargraves is still an accredited police officer in the state of Washington. She said Hargraves should be stripped of his credentials to ensure another incident similar to the victim’s allegations does not occur again.

Tracy said he does not know whether Hargraves will be stripped of his law enforcement credentials.

“I would find it hard to believe that the defendant would apply for, let alone get hired as a police officer anywhere else,” he said.

Prescott said the case led to a loss of trust in the police department, and the outcome led to a loss of trust in the prosecution.

“We are disappointed that no justice was served. There is no conclusion, so it just kind of ended there,” she said. “The fact that it didn’t end up in any sort of decision definitely impacts the student body.”

She said that because the case was public, incoming students may have it in mind. She said she has heard from students that they do not feel safe on campus.

Prescott said she wants to make sure that ASWSU took every possible measure to prevent another student from finding themselves in a similar situation as the alleged incident.

“I wish things could have been different,” she said. “However, I stand by and support the victim.”