Senate halts rape investigation of defeated state senator Joe Fain

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday they will not move forward with an investigation of a rape allegation made against Republican Sen. Joe Fain, who leaves office next month after losing his bid for re-election.

The decision by Democratic leaders comes a day after Republican Sen. Randi Becker urged a reversal of bipartisan action last month that approved the hiring of an outside investigator.

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said his predecessor, Sharon Nelson, and Republican leader Mark Schoesler, had agreed the investigation would only move forward with bipartisan support. When GOP leaders dropped their support the deal collapsed, he said, noting that they were never able to even gain approval on potential candidates to hire for the investigation.

Becker said because of Fain's electoral ouster there were questions about what could even be done with any results from a Senate investigation. She said a proper venue for any investigation is law enforcement or the courts.

"This is no longer a matter of relevance to the Senate," Becker wrote in a letter to Democratic leadership Monday. "There is no longer a legislative purpose to serve, only a partisan one."

Seattle resident Candace Faber said in a Tweet in September that Fain raped her in 2007 in Washington, D.C., on the night she got her master's degree from Georgetown University.

Faber, who previously worked with the city of Seattle's information technology department and as a foreign service officer, said she was inspired to publicly speak out as she watched the televised allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The Associated Press does not ordinarily identify victims of alleged sexual assault but is doing so because Faber has publicly identified herself as a victim.

Fain, who has denied the allegation, was not in office at the time at the time of the alleged assault. Faber says they had met at a tour of the Capitol, and that the assault occurred after she walked him back to his hotel room after a night of drinking and dancing.

Democratic Sen. John McCoy noted that Fain will hold office until the next legislative session starts on Jan. 14, and that his defeat doesn't mean the Senate should back away from its responsibility to the public.

"Just as Senator Fain deserves the benefit of the doubt, a fair and thorough investigation, and to be treated respectfully throughout the process, so too does Ms. Faber," McCoy wrote in a letter Tuesday to Becker.

Fain did not respond to a message for comment Tuesday, but in a text Monday he said he had not asked for the investigation to be canceled, but said he had shared the concerns "that this may be a political, rather than a neutral, investigation."

Faber said Tuesday's decision didn't surprise her. "What this tells me and other survivors is that if you speak up nothing will happen," she said. "Nothing significant in terms of accountability."

She also pushed back on calls from those who say she should file a police report 11 years later.

"Almost never does the criminal justice system result in meaningful accountability for this type of crime," she said. "The only result is prison time or a fine, neither of which accomplishes the goal of justice for me."