January 8, 1997 in City

Former Officer Convicted Of Rape Suing City, Police Gentry Claims His Rights Were Violated During His Criminal Investigation

By The Spokesman-Review

William Gentry once apologized to the people of Spokane and the city’s police department for the shame his rape of a retarded woman brought on them.

Now, the fired patrol sergeant is suing them over the matter.

Gentry filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Spokane last week claiming his constitutional rights were violated during the 1993 investigations that resulted in his firing and subsequent criminal conviction.

The suit names the city of Spokane, police Sgt. Earl Ennis, Lt. Terry Laliberte and police psychologist Dannette Palmer as defendants.

Gentry, 51, claims Ennis and Laliberte questioned him about criminal activity during what was supposed to be an internal affairs interview without first notifying him of his rights to have an attorney present.

“It is further believed that defendant Ennis committed perjury at trial in an overly zealous attempt to seek conviction,” the suit states.

Gentry says Palmer used her position as the police department’s psychological counselor to question him about criminal activity during a therapy session he requested for help with depression.

That violated doctor-patient privilege, the suit states.

“She interrogated me about information she obviously got from the police department because I never discussed it with her,” Gentry said Tuesday.

He is seeking unspecified monetary damages for “loss of income, destruction of reputation, and severe emotional trauma and distress,” according to the suit.

Gentry said he also wants an independent investigation of the Ennis perjury accusations.

Efforts to reach Ennis and Palmer for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Laliberte referred questions on the lawsuit to the city attorney’s office.

Acting City Manager Bill Pupo said the investigation was conducted appropriately and city employees acted legally and ethically.

“We stand by the investigation,” Pupo said. “We’ll defend those actions any time, anywhere. He was found guilty.”

In October 1994, Gentry said he was sorry when he was sentenced to four years in state prison after being convicted of second-degree rape.

A Spokane County jury found him guilty of having a sexual relationship with a mentally retarded woman he met on the job. The woman didn’t realize the consequences of her actions when she had sex with Gentry, the jury concluded.

“I know I owe an apology to the citizens of Spokane because I violated the trust that they placed in me,” Gentry said at his sentencing. “I also owe an apology to the many members of the Spokane Police Department because of the effect this has had on them and the bad publicity. I’m sorry. That’s all I can really say.”

Gentry, who lives in Deer Park, has been out on bond while the state Court of Appeals considers his appeal. The 19-year veteran of the force has been living off a taxpayerfinanced disability pension that pays him more than $26,000 annually.

He said Tuesday he’s not just suing for the money.

“I want the truth to come out,” Gentry said. “And I want perhaps some changes made in the department so someone down the line doesn’t have their rights trampled on like I did.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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