Firm handling Straub/Cotton investigation releases statement: 'W - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Firm handling Straub/Cotton investigation releases statement: 'We urge patience and restraint'

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Frank Straub (Left) and & Monique Cotton (Right) are at the center of the investigation Frank Straub (Left) and & Monique Cotton (Right) are at the center of the investigation
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The firm handling the investigation into the City of Spokane's handling of the dismissal of former Police Chief Frank Straub and the transfer of spokeswoman Monique Cotton to a different department released a statement on Monday. 

Former Police Spokeswoman, Monique Cotton, accused Straub of sexual harassment. Cotton was transferred to the city's park's department following her report of harassment to Condon. City officials said the independent inquiry will examine the process policy and timelines associated with Spokane Police personnel movements, as well as the release of public records last fall. 

Saying they do not normally comment publicly on their investigations, Seabold Group, cited ongoing media coverage "that has, at times, included incorrect facts and premature judgment about the impact of some witnesses choosing not to participate in this investigation" as their reasoning for releasing a statement on the status of the investigation. 

On February 24, 2016, KHQ reported an email sent to Spokane Police Department employees set to be interviewed in the independent investigation did not have to participate. 

Seabold Group says they have conducted 29 interviews as of April 4, 2016 and they anticipate 10-15 more, including Mayor David Condon, City Administrator Theresa Sanders,and Communications Director Brian Coddington. Seabold Group claims "the timing of those interviews is not reflective of their willingness to participate," but rather "it was our decision to schedule them toward the end of our investigation."

Seabold also addressed the status of the investigation's two main focuses: Frank Straub and Monique Cotton. 

"Chief Straub’s attorney informed us at the beginning of the investigation that her client would not be participating," the firm stated on the subject of Frank Straub's participation. "We respect that decision and at this point do not know the full impact his absence will have on our factual findings."

Seabold Group says they were told in February Monique Cotton intended to participate in the investigation, but they haven't been able to schedule an interview. After an article ran in The Spokesman Review last week on the investigation, Seabold says they reached out again to Monique to "clarify her intentions" and do not yet know whether she will participate in the investigation. 

RELATED: City officials: 'Participation in independent inquiry into handling of Frank Straub situation is now voluntary'

"We are unable to fully assess the impact on the investigation findings if Ms. Cotton declines to participate," Seabold said. 

Other employees who have chosen not to participate include Witnesses in the City Attorney's Office, and five members of the Spokane Police Department. 

"Most of the SPD witnesses we requested to interview, however, have made themselves available both before and after the decision was announced that participation in the investigation is voluntary," Seabold said. 

The group said they have submitted public record requests for documents related to the case and hope to be able to review those soon. 

"We understand and fully appreciate the public’s interest in this investigation, but we also must protect the integrity of the process to ensure it is fair for everyone who participates, elects not to participate, or who will be potentially impacted by the investigation findings. We urge patience and restraint to allow the process to run its course," Seabold stated. 

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