Late report in Hill case leads to termination

Officer let go after internal investigation, according to records

PORT ANGELES — Allegations against a former emergency room doctor who stands charged with six counts of sexual misconduct with patients predated the first instance for which he was charged by nearly a month, but the police officer who talked with the alleged victim did not file a timely report, according to investigation records.

The trial of former Olympic Medical Center doctor Josiah Hill is set for June 5 on five counts of indecent liberties by a healthcare provider and one count of second-degree rape. Prosecutors have said more charges may be filed at a later date.

The charges are based on allegations made to investigators beginning in April. A woman alleged sexual assault twice in March, according to documents concerning the termination of Michael Johnson from the Port Angeles Police Department (PAPD) as obtained by Ashton Dennis, an attorney with Washington Law group representing two of the alleged sexual assault victims.

Johnson was terminated as an officer on Aug. 19, following an internal investigation that determined he had been found in violation of several PAPD policies, the records said.

The investigation found that Johnson violated the Sexual Assault Required Reporting policy and the department’s code of ethics by making false or misleading statements, dishonorable/disgraceful conduct, and violations against policy regarding administrative investigations.

Chief Brian Smith said in a letter sent on Aug. 19 to Johnson, who had been with the department since 2007, that not filing the reports in a timely fashion delayed the investigation of Hill.

According to a probable cause statement filed by Johnson in May, he had on two occasions in March 2022 been told by an alleged victim, a woman in her 30s, that Hill had sexually assaulted her.

He said he was told this while investigating other reports.

The first time Johnson heard the woman’s allegations was March 22, according to the internal investigation report. He heard allegations from her also on March 24 when he followed up with her at the request of her family to help her find mental health resources, the report said.

During this conversation, the woman told Johnson that Hill had made suggestive comments about her chest and touched her inappropriately on March 16.

Internal investigation documents reveal that on both those occasions, Johnson did not file a report.

“By not completing the initial report in a timely manner, you did not provide investigators with the opportunity to begin their investigation,” Smith said in his letter to Johnson.

”The initial report should have been written promptly regardless of who might have completed the follow-up investigation, and those efforts would have been properly documented in supplemental reports,” Smith continued.

“It will never be known whether a timely report written by you regarding the sexual assault allegations would have prevented the suspect from committing additional crimes,” Smith said.

Detectives did not begin to investigate Hill until two other women had come forward in April 2022. They subsequently learned from Johnson about the woman he had spoken with in March.

Johnson was instructed to immediately file a report by his superior officer on May 10. The officer was soon placed on unpaid administrative leave while under internal investigation.

On June 8, Detective Sgt. Kori Malone interviewed Johnson as part of the internal investigation, according to investigation documents.

Johnson said he had intended to file the sexual assault reports but did not have time. Sgt. Malone said that the call log for the time period, March 22-May 10, showed he had at least 49 opportunities to file the reports.

Johnson also was interviewed by his union representative, Richard Stone with Teamsters 589 and Chief Smith, during which Johnson repeated what he told Sgt. Malone, and also said the primary reason he delayed filing the reports was to obtain more information about the woman’s allegations from OMC. Stone could not be reached for comment.

It was ultimately determined that Johnson never requested documentation from OMC.

In a July 11 letter to Deputy Chief Jason Viada and Chief Smith, Johnson said it was his belief that submitting the report with the woman’s brief statement and no other information would result in his report being rejected and sent back to him to obtain more information.

“You apparently considered and abandoned the excuse that you lacked time to complete the necessary task in favor of a different excuse that you considered more plausible,” Smith said in his letter to Johnson.

“Given your lack of effort to obtain any additional information, including making a request for a video that could be recorded over when no one was asking for it to be preserved, I did not credit this new excuse.”

During a pre-disciplinary hearing in July 2022, Smith gave Johnson an opportunity to demonstrate why he should not be terminated, explaining he needed to convince the chief that he was not lying during the internal investigation to cover up what would have been a forgivable offense.

“Forgetting to write a report after receiving allegations of sexual assault violates policy and warrants some disciplinary actions,” Smith said.

”Mistakes can be forgiven and corrected.

“But being dishonest as to why you failed to write the report when interviewed for the investigation cannot be tolerated.

“It is the dishonesty, and not the failure to write a report that had led me to the decision that the disciplinary sanction, in this case, is the termination of your employment with the PAPD,” Smith said.

________

Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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