Austin Michael Case, a former Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputy, pleaded not guilty to six felonies during his arraignment hearing Friday, July 21 after being fired and arrested less than two weeks prior.
The charges, filed Friday, July 14 in Whatcom County Superior Court, include two counts of unlawful imprisonment, one count of first-degree extortion, first-degree burglary, third-degree rape and indecent liberties by forcible compulsion.
Case’s jury trial is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 2, as first reported by the Bellingham Herald.
The 23-year-old from Ferndale was arrested July 12, and was released July 14 from the Whatcom County Jail on a $250,000 bond, according to court records.
Case was placed on administrative leave June 29 after the sheriff’s office “was notified of social media conversations that caused concerns regarding Mr. Case’s adherence to the expectations for sheriff’s office employees,” according to a July 12 press release.
Case, hired by the sheriff’s office in January, was still in his probationary period, WCSO spokesperson Deb Slater said in an email.
The Skagit Island County Multi Agency Response Team (SMART) launched an investigation into Case July 10. The investigation is ongoing, and Case declined to speak with SMART investigators July 12, according to court documents.
The Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office was unavailable to respond to a request for comment prior to publication.