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Monday, September 28, 2020

Whatcom County employee charged with sexually assaulting Western student

By Nate Sanford

Content Warning: This story contains a description of sexual assault. 

Timothy A. Kennedy, 37, was arrested the evening of Jan. 19 and is charged with rape in the third degree, a felony.

The state of Washington defines third degree rape as a person who has sexual intercourse with another person who does not consent.

Kennedy was arrested by University Police after a Western student reported that Kennedy sexually assaulted her in early December 2019. The student was able to identify Kennedy via a photo montage, a collection of photographs of individuals who looked similar to Kennedy, that included a picture of Kennedy himself.

The student told police they initially met via Tinder, where Kennedy used the name “Jake.” The two met in person at the student’s dorm room, and had a sexual encounter. The student told police she avoided Kennedy’s subsequent requests to meet up over the next few weeks. Kennedy contacted the student again on Dec. 7, 2019 and she allowed him to come to her dorm room.

The student said Kennedy was being persistent, so she allowed him to kiss her, but told Kennedy she didn’t want to have sex, to which he agreed. According to the police report, he began touching her, and continued after she said “no” several times. He then sexually assaulted her. When she screamed, he put on his clothes and ran out.

The student reported the crime to University Police on Jan. 9. Kennedy was arrested 10 days later, Paul Cocke, Western’s director of communications and marketing, said in an email. Because there was no imminent danger to the campus community, a Western alert was not sent.

Kennedy has been released, with bail set at $5,000. Prosecutors asked for $7,500 in bail and a public defender — who Kennedy plans to replace with private counsel — said he should be released on personal recognizance (without bail).

Kennedy, a Planner II with Whatcom County’s Planning and Development Services department, has worked for the county since 2013, Tyler Schroeder, Whatcom County deputy executive, said in an email. In 2018, his salary was $56,649, according to base salary and actual gross pay data for Whatcom County employees. Schroeder declined to comment on whether Kennedy has been placed on paid leave.

Kennedy must appear back in court on Jan. 31. A pre-trial protection order prevents him from contacting the student.

Kennedy is a former Western student. In 2011, he graduated from Huxley with a degree in planning and environmental policy, according to Western’s Registrar’s Office.

Third degree rape carries a maximum sentence of five years and $10,000.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, visit EOO, the Office of Student Life or CASAS to learn more about the reporting and support options available to you on and off Western’s campus.

Contributed reporting by Jordan Kiel, Erasmus Baxter and Mazey Servín-Obert.

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