On Tuesday, the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) arrested King County Metro’s head of security, Mark L. Norton, on human trafficking and rape charges. Norton has worked for Metro since July 2010.
In charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court, KCSO Detective Luke Hillman alleged that Norton repeatedly raped a young woman in his employ when she was a minor, then coerced her into prostitution after she turned 18.
“The suspect’s grooming began when he was in his 30’s and the victim was a teenager and was babysitting for the suspect’s children,” KCSO Sergeant Ryan Abbott wrote in a separate, Wednesday release. “After persuading the victim to engage in sex acts with him, the suspect had the victim move in with him. Eventually the suspect operated as a pimp and pressured the victim to engage in prostitution on numerous occasions throughout Seattle, Lynnwood and Everett. The suspect arranged the prostitution online and kept the money brought by people wanting to have sex with the victim.”
According to Metro spokesperson Torie Rynning, Norton has been placed on unpaid leave and may be terminated.
“We are shocked and deeply disturbed to learn of the allegations and are cooperating with investigators,” Rynning wrote in a statement. “While in custody, this employee will be on unpaid leave, and we are exploring avenues to take immediate steps regarding this employee’s ongoing employment. Meanwhile, we are conducting our own administrative investigation to determine if any additional or unrelated code of conduct violations may have occurred.”
We asked Metro whether their background check picked up any prior malfeasance by Norton when he was hired.
“Metro currently conducts extensive background checks for sensitive personnel positions, including this position,” Rynning wrote. “We are reviewing our procedures to determine if additional screens are needed, however it is not clear that this activity would have been caught with additional screening.”