An election-night confrontation at a downtown bar involving Yakima City Council candidate Kenton Gartrell wasn’t the first time his behavior was called into question.
Gartrell was suspended from his refereeing duties by Washington Youth Soccer for making sexually suggestive comments to a female referee at a hotel swimming pool in June 2015, according to a document obtained by the Yakima Herald-Republic.
Gartrell declined Wednesday to discuss the matter with a reporter.
“That has nothing to do with this community and that has nothing to do with anything here,” he said. “I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about what the community needs are and you should be focused on that.”
Washington Youth Soccer CEO Terry Fisher verified the incident and related document.
“That case did exist. There was a hearing and there was a decision rendered,” he said.
According to a United States Soccer Federation document, Gartrell was serving as a referee at a regional tournament in Boise, Idaho, where he made inappropriate comments to a 19-year-old soccer official at the hotel where referees were staying.
Gartrell, who had been drinking with two male referees, insinuated that the woman had slept with another referee at the same tournament the previous year, commented on her breasts and said he wanted to perform oral sex on her, the document said.
Another male referee advised the woman to leave the pool, according to the USSF document.
Washington Youth Soccer’s hearing board found Gartrell guilty of violating USSF policy and suspended him for six months.
Gartrell lost his appeal to the United States Soccer Federation in February 2016.
After refusing to comment on the matter, Gartrell emailed a photo of himself participating in a community art program for youths to the Yakima Herald-Republic.
“I’d prefer the world to talk about what we as a community can do for the kids. I’m not going to relive a dark time in my life. Let’s talk about what we can do going forward for the kids,” he wrote in the email.
Gartrell’s behavior made headlines last week when he was accused of putting his arms around Rocio Carrion — who supports his opponent — at Brews & Cues in downtown Yakima on primary election night, Aug. 6.
Gartrell faces Eliana Macias in November for the District 1 seat on the Yakima City Council. Councilwoman Dulce Gutierrez did not seek reelection in District 1.
Carrion also accused Gartrell of pointing out her DACA status while at the bar and flipping off her group of friends when they cheered to a Latino song.
She posted a brief video of Gartrell knocking her cellphone out of her hands when she followed him out of the bar, asking “Why were you flipping us off?”
Gartrell said he regrets knocking the phone out of her hands, but denies the other allegations.
He said Carrion’s friends insulted his group at a different bar earlier in the evening.