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Island man charged with indecent exposure

A Vashon man pled not guilty on Wednesday to charges that he forced a teen girl to touch his genitals and offered to pay her for sex while the two were in his vehicle delivering newspapers on the Island.

King County prosecutors have charged Joseph Garcia, 30, with indecent exposure and communication with a minor for immoral purposes. A case setting hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7.

According to charging papers, Garcia, 30, a married man who worked at Vashon Thriftway at the time, was delivering newspapers with a 17-year-old family friend on Nov. 8 when he began to talk about his sex life and offered to pay the girl to have sex with him. When the girl refused, Garcia allegedly exposed his genitals, grabbed the girl's hand and forced her to touch them.

The girl, who also worked at Thriftway, tried several times to pull her hand away, but Garcia held it there, according to a report of the incident by King County Sheriff's Det. Michael Gordon.

Garcia was arrested on Nov. 21, two weeks later, after the girl let a King County sheriff's deputy listen in on a phone call in which she confronted Garcia, asking why he had forced her to touch his genitals. According to the report, Garcia apologized over the phone several times.

“I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done it. … I was really stupid and I just thought it would be funny,” he allegedly told her, according to the detective's report.

Garcia declined to comment. His wife, Karen Garcia, however, said her husband is innocent and that the girl actually solicited her husband. She called the dispute a “he said-she said” incident, adding that the girl is going after her husband because “he stood up to her.”

As for the phone call in which he apologized to the girl, Karen Garcia said her husband was actually saying he was sorry because he couldn't hear what she was saying, as the connection was bad.

Garcia, she added, grew up on Vashon, attended Vashon High School, is happily married and is the father of a 7-year-old girl. “He has been an upstanding citizen of this community since he was little,” she said.

According to the detective's report, the alleged victim was afraid to come forward at first since Garcia was a family friend but decided to go to authorities after she confided in her mother and coworkers and was reportedly told by coworkers that Garcia had done similar things to them.

Gordon said Garcia admitted to the deputy who arrested him that he had talked with the girl about sex that day, unzipped his pants and pulled her hand toward his crotch. However, Garcia said that his genitals were not exposed, that he never asked the girl for sex and that the girl made comments about her own sex life as well.

Karen Garcia, however, disputed that as well. “He did not admit to anything,” she said..

According to charging papers, Garcia may have been involved in another incident with a coworker. A 56-year-old woman who also works at Thriftway told Gordon that three days after the Nov. 8 incident she was at Garcia's apartment playing pool when he grabbed her bra strap over her clothes, exposed his genitals and played with them and repeatedly asked the woman to show him her breasts.

Karen Garcia, who said she knows the woman making the allegation, said she believes she made up the story “to make the younger girl sound credible.” The woman making the allegation, she added, has never been to their home.

Garcia no longer works at Thriftway. Tim Marsh, a manager at Thriftway, said the store ended his employment because of a situation at the store unrelated to the charges against him.

Beachcomber publisher Daralyn Anderson confirmed that Garcia was formerly contracted to deliver newspapers for The Beachcomber.

 

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