Judge plans to fight courthouse rape, sex assault charges
SEATTLE (AP) — A judge in southeastern Washington has been charged with rape and other crimes which authorities say took place in the Asotin County Courthouse, authorities said Thursday.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his office charged Superior Court Judge Scott D. Gallina with second-degree rape, fourth-degree sexual assault and indecent liberties. Gallina, 55, was arrested Wednesday at the courthouse.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price on Thursday issued a sexual assault protective order for one alleged victim and ordered Gallina to turn in his keys to the courthouse, Ferguson said.
Gallina posted $50,000 bail Thursday, The Lewiston Tribune reported . Gallina’s attorney Carl Oreskovich told The Associated Press his client adamantly denies the allegations and plans to enter not guilty pleas at his May 6 arraignment.
“It’s just incredulous that during a courtroom break when there are people in the courtroom and staff that come and go, that numerous incidents are alleged to have occurred in judge’s chambers. He’s looking forward to getting in the courtroom, cross-examining witnesses and exposing the truth,” Oreskovich said.
Gallina began harassing and sexually assaulting one Asotin County Courthouse employee shortly after the person starting working there in May 2017 and it continued until Gallina’s arrest, according to probable cause documents. All the charges are related to that employee although investigators interviewed a total of nine courthouse employees who reported varying degrees of sexual misconduct by Gallina over several years, documents said.
The woman told investigators that when Gallina would call her into his chambers, he would make sure the door was locked, court papers said. She said he’d make inappropriate comments, hug her and rub her shoulders without her consent, documents said.
His actions progressed to him removing her clothes and touching her, kissing her and eventually the woman told investigators he put her in a chokehold and sexually assaulted her, only stopping when someone knocked on the door, documents said.
The woman told investigators she could sometimes see law enforcement officers through the window but was too afraid to alert them. She said she was afraid of losing her job if she reported the conduct and was also afraid her report would be questioned because Gallina was a judge and she was not, documents said.
She told investigators she spoke to Gallina about his actions and that he said he “could not help it because he liked beautiful women.”
She eventually told another employee last year, documents said, and the county started an investigation which led to the criminal investigation. Investigators said several other women reported criminal conduct but either couldn’t remember details on what year alleged assaults happened or said the conduct had happened before April 2017, which is beyond a two-year statute of limitations for sexual assault charges.
Some of the women said they feared the judge and some said they had developed a safety plan that involved keeping each other from being alone with him, according to documents.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Gallina to the Superior Court bench in Asotin, Garfield and Columbia counties in 2014 when a predecessor retired. He was elected to a four-year term in 2016.