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Depositions to begin in firehouse-sex case

Attorneys for a teenage girl who alleges she was raped in a Spokane fire station by an on-duty firefighter are scheduled to begin taking sworn depositions this week from various city officials and employees.

Mayor Dennis Hession and ex-deputy Mayor Jack Lynch are expected to be among those officials asked questions under oath about the firehouse-sex scandal by attorneys J. Scott Miller and Greg Devlin.

The attorneys also have given the city notice they intend to take depositions from Fire Chief Bobby Williams, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Assistant Chief Jim Nicks and Al Odenthal, former deputy police chief.

Miller and Devlin represent “Jane Doe,” who was 16 in February 2006, when she alleges she was raped by firefighter Daniel Ross in Fire Station No. 17 in northwest Spokane.

The girl’s attorneys filed a $1 million damage claim against the city before filing a civil rights damages suit last December in U.S. District Court.

Ross admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse with the girl and photographing the incident, but he contended the activity was consensual and he didn’t know she was a minor.

In the city’s legal response to the lawsuit, Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi said the city shouldn’t be held liable for what occurred in its fire station or the acts of its firefighter.

Facing the likelihood of being fired, the 35-year-old firefighter resigned his $63,769-a-year job about a month after the Feb. 10, 2006, incident.

The city “specifically denies (that) defendant Ross was ‘as part of his employment, acting as a representative of the City of Spokane within the scope of his employment’ at the time of the alleged wrongful conduct,” Treppiedi said in the legal filing.

Three firefighters who were on duty at the time of the incident and claim they saw nothing also are scheduled to be questioned under oath by the plaintiff’s attorneys.

Also named as defendants in the suit are police detective Neil Gallion and his supervisor, detective Sgt. Joe Peterson.

They responded to the fire station after the teenage girl’s boyfriend reported to police she had been raped.

The detectives ordered Ross to delete digital photographs he had taken of his sexual encounter with the girl, apparently believing that would prevent dissemination of the photos.

The suit alleges the detectives’ actions amount to destruction of evidence – a contention Treppiedi flatly denied in the city’s response.

“Both officers believed that no crime had been committed when the decision to delete the photographs was made, and their intent was to prevent defendant Ross from improperly using the photographs in the future,” Treppiedi’s legal response said.

“The city admits that the deletion of the photographs from the camera as potential evidence and contraband violated the Spokane Police Department’s policies and protocols for the gathering and preservation of evidence, which led to the disciplinary suspension of both Gallion and Peterson,” Treppiedi’s response said.

The assistant city attorney filed a cross-claim against Ross.

“The city defendants assert that defendant Daniel Ross is liable for all or part of the plaintiffs’ claim,” Treppiedi said.

The city should be entitled to indemnity or a contribution from Ross, in an amount to be proven, if damages are awarded to the girl, the city attorney said.

At a hearing last week, Judge Fred Van Sickle, who has been assigned the civil suit, suggested the parties consider moving the case to mediation for a possible settlement.

Treppiedi told the court the city wasn’t interested at this point in moving toward mediation, but Miller said he would be agreeable to that.

The court could order mediation.

As part of its defense, the city is attempting to get medical records that may reflect on prior sexual activity by the plaintiff.

Miller said he will file a limiting motion this week, asking the court to block the city from using any of the teenage girl’s medical records against her if the case goes to trial.



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