"Yakima lawyer won’t be tried a 3rd time, at least not now"

DAVID ALLEN, attorney
George Hansen, defendant

Yakima Herald

George Hansen and his attorney David Allen stand as jurors leave a Yakima County Superior Courtroom Tuesday. Hansen is accused of sexually assaulting an employee of his law firm. (DONALD W. MEYERS/Yakima Herald-Republic)

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Prosecutors won’t be retrying a Yakima attorney on charges of forcible indecent liberties after two juries deadlocked — for now, at least.

Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Candace Hooper ordered the charge against George Hansen dismissed without prejudice. That means prosecutors could refile the charge anytime before the statute of limitation runs out in 2019.

Hansen’s attorney sought to have the charges dismissed with prejudice, eliminating any attempt to prosecute him a third time on allegations that he fondled a woman at his office in July 2016.

“I’m still in business,” Hansen said after the hearing in Yakima County Superior Court. “I’ve had people ask me if I were still in business.”

He declined to comment further.

Hansen was initially charged with attempted second-degree rape, forcible indecent liberties and unlawful imprisonment in connection with the incident. A then-paralegal at Hansen’s office told investigators that Hansen held her down in a chair, fondled her breast and threatened to rape her.

Hooper heard the case because Yakima County’s judges recused themselves over potential conflicts of interest. Hansen was a deputy Yakima County prosecuting attorney before going into private practice.

In May, a jury acquitted Hansen of the attempted rape charge and deadlocked on the other charges. Last week, another jury acquitted Hansen of unlawful imprisonment but could not reach a verdict on the remaining charge.

David Allen, who represented Hansen, said the juries in each case were leaning toward acquittal when they were hung and that the charge should be dropped once and for all.

“The state has taken its best shot twice,” Allen said. With a pending complaint against him with the state Bar Association stemming from the incident and a possible civil suit by his accuser, Hansen deserves to have the case put to rest, Allen said.

Allen said judges have overridden Yakima County prosecutors’ requests to leave the door open to future charges in the past. In 2012, a visiting Klickitat County Superior Court judge ordered a child-rape charge against a Yakima attorney dropped with prejudice after a key witness recanted testimony, citing the need for closure for the defendant.

Then-Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hagarty sought to have the option to file the charge again, noted Allen, who was the defense attorney in that case.

In the Hansen case, Deputy Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney David Soukup argued that the county wanted to retain its option to refile the charges should Hansen face a subsequent sex crime charge or is charged with committing another crime against the woman.

Allen said his client wants nothing more to do with the woman, who now lives out of state.

Hooper, in her ruling, said Soukup’s request was similar to other requests prosecutors have made to drop charges without prejudice.

“I don’t think Mr. Hansen has anything to worry about,” Hooper said as she granted the order.



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