by Matt Rosenberg April 12th, 2013
A PhD candidate at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business who also teaches undergraduate business courses at UW Bothell was charged in mid-March with the felony offense of commercial sexual abuse of a minor. The case developed from an in-depth, two-day online exchange between a Seattle Police vice unit 44-year-old male detective impersonating a 15-year-old female prostitute and a 32-year-old Ukrainian citizen teaching “financial policy and planning” to UW-Bothell undergrads. According to King County Superior Court records, it included agreement on sexual acts and price, delivery of a female vice cop impersonating the bait to a University District block near the teacher’s apartment, plus payment by the teacher to a driver who was also an undercover cop, as other police watched from stake-out locations nearby. The sting culminated in a bust immediately thereafter.
Formally charged in mid-March and now out on bail and awaiting the scheduling next week of further court dates is Sergei Vladimirovich Barna, 32, a University District resident. On March 28 he pled not guilty in an initial court appearance, or arraignment.
Biz school dean was unaware of case
UW Foster School of Business Dean James Jiambalvo, highly regarded for his work in recent years to help develop capital facilities, and programs, confirmed Barna was a PhD candidate there but said he was not aware of the arrest. He thanked Public Data Ferret for alerting him to the case, and added he would look into the matter before providing any possible additional comment.
We will update our story if that is forthcoming. (UPDATE – 4/12/13: Jiambalvo stressed that while Barna is a PhD candidate at the Foster School, the school does not oversee his work as a classroom instructor at UW Bothell. He added, “these are very serious charges. He is innocent until proven guilty. If one of our students were proven guilty of felony they would not be in our program thereafter.” We have left a request to speak to the dean of the UW Bothell School of Business, Sandeep Krishnamurthy.)(UPDATE – 4/15/13: UW Bothell spokesperson Laura Mansfield said, “Effective immediately, Mr. Barna has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. Regarding your second question, there is not a blanket policy that addresses an employee who is facing a felony charge. Employees are entitled to due process, and each case is evaluated individually. When there is a potential concern about student safety – as in this case – the employee is removed from campus immediately.”)
Defendant teaching “finance and planning” to UW Bothell undergrads
Barna is listed in the “finance” section of the Foster School’s online roster of its current PhD candidates. He is further identified in a UW faculty directory online as a teaching associate in finance and business economics and as a pre-doctoral lecturer at UW Bothell Business. He was also reviewed in February and March of this year by students at ratemyprofessors.com for his teaching at UW Bothell. Additionally he is listed – by last name only – in the UW Bothell 2012-2013 business school undergraduate course schedule as teaching two units of financial policy and planning in autumn quarter, one of Business Finance in Winter, and two of Business Finance in spring quarter which began in early April.
Reached by phone, Barna declined comment on the arrest, saying only that he would contact his attorney to see if she would respond to a reporter’s questions about the case. She has not yet replied.
Police: online ad hastened two-day exchange, sex-for-cash plans
According to the Seattle Police Department case investigation report included in the above-linked King County court records on the case, an undercover detective with the SPD’s Vice/High Risk Victim Unit placed an ad March 10 at a popular hook-up site called Casual Encounters and drew a response from an individual later confirmed to be Barna. The vice detective in “an extensive email conversation” over the next two days told Barna she was “a 15-year-old minor female child,” a “student…looking to meet men and perform sex in exchange for money.” In fact the Seattle vice detective impersonating her online was a 44-year-old male.
Price and specifics reportedly agreed upon
The SPD report claims that Barna agreed via email to pay $150 to the decoy for “oral and regular sex” and asked her to meet him near his apartment which is just north of the UW campus in the 4700 block of 24th Ave. NE, where he wanted to bring her. The male vice detective impersonating the female underage prostitute said yes to the meeting. Police staked out the surroundings. As Barna waited on the street, they identified him from pictures he had supplied during the earlier email exchanges.
The meet-up; the bust
The car arrived and stopped, in the 4600 block of 26th Ave. NE. It was about 7:45 p.m. on March 12. Barna approached the car, looked in to the passenger window. He saw a female detective who was “posing as the 15 year old minor child,” according to the police report. He called her by her online name; the detective said she was that person. Barna then paid the driver $20, as also agreed upon earlier. This triggered his arrest. A search by police recovered $150 from him and an Amazon Kindle he had been using to communicate with the fake teen hooker.
No priors; next court date April 16
The police report noted Barna is a Ukranian citizen here on a student visa. The Ukranian Consulate was notified of his arrest, and he was released on bail March 13, the day after he was booked into King County Jail. The county prosecutor on the case Carol Spoor argued to the court Barna was a flight risk and urged his passport be seized until the case is resolved. Under Washington state law, commercial sexual exploitation of a minor is a Class B felony, punishable upon conviction by up to 10 years imprisonment or a fine of up to 20,000, or both. Barna’s next court date is April 16. He has no previous criminal record.
RELATED: Public Data Ferret’s University of Washington+Ethics archive; and “How To Track Criminal Cases In Washington State,” from our Tumblr site Musings of MrDataFerret.