RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — An eastern Washington judge has been charged with assault for domestic violence, court documents show.
Benton-Franklin Superior Court Judge Sam Swanberg was cited on two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence in Franklin County District Court, the Tri-City Herald reported.. He is due to plead against the charges on February 8.
Swanberg’s attorney, Scott Johnson, said Swanberg will plead not guilty to the charges.
A temporary protective order for his ex-wife is in place until then. A one-year no-contact order is also in place in Benton County to prevent him from contacting an ex-girlfriend, who said he stalked her after they broke up. These allegations have been referred to an outside prosecutor for review.
Swanberg’s attorney said he was unaware of the Franklin County investigation until the subpoena was released on Friday. The sheriff’s department issued the citation without involvement from Franklin County prosecutors.
Sheriff investigators said in court documents that they attempted to contact Swanberg and identified themselves as detectives investigating the case, but he did not return their calls.
Swanberg’s attorney, Scott Johnson, said Swanberg absolutely disputes his ex-wife’s accounts and called the charges dubious.
Swanberg was accused of abuse by his ex-wife in a court filing last month. The filing was part of the supporting documents in the civil case seeking a no contact order brought by an ex-girlfriend.
An investigation was then opened by the Franklin County Sheriff‘s Office and the citation was issued. The charges are misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail.
The former wife told sheriff detectives she had photos of Swanberg dragging her out of a room in their home and pushing her in separate incidents in February 2021.
Swanberg is one of seven Superior Court judges and three court commissioners who handle civil and criminal matters, divorces, paternity and custody issues in the two counties. He oversees Benton and Franklin County cases, including Kennewick, Richland and Pasco. He has been on the bench for about four years.
Swanberg was removed Tuesday by the other Superior Court justices from the Superior Court Administrative Matters Chair and will not be assigned to any cases while the case unfolds.