The president of the Spokane Police Guild has been charged with a felony crime for allegedly tipping off an officer who is being investigated for sexual assault.
Sgt. John Gately is charged with felony first-degree rendering criminal assistance and obstructing a law enforcement officer in connection with the case.
“John is innocent and we’re going to aggressively fight these charges,” said Gately’s attorney, David Allen.
There was no indication in documents available late Friday when Gately is expected to be booked into the Spokane County Jail. His arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 21.
Court documents filed Friday contain a detailed timeline of when members of the police command staff were notified of the sexual assault allegation and by whom. It shows that at least two people passed information about the criminal investigation on to Gately, who then made phone calls to the officer accused of assault, Sgt. Gordon Ennis.
Ennis is suspected of assaulting a fellow police officer at a party at the home of another officer on Oct. 24. The woman told investigators that she passed out after having several drinks and woke up early on Oct. 25 in a guest bedroom to find Ennis sitting on the bed next to her with his hand down her pants, fondling her.
Ennis has been charged with second-degree rape and is expected to appear in court Monday. An internal review panel opted Friday to place Ennis on unpaid leave until the criminal case against him is completed.
City spokesman Brian Coddington said the review panel will reconvene Monday to consider whether to place Gately on unpaid status as well.
Court records filed Friday say a friend of the victim notified her supervisor of the allegation on the evening of Oct. 25. Her supervisor called his supervisors, one of whom called Assistant Chief Selby Smith. Less than an hour after he was notified of the allegation, Smith called Gately at 8:30 p.m., according to court documents.
Smith told investigators that he called Gately because he knew Gately was on the department’s Personnel Assistance Team and he believed the victim would need the team’s aid. Smith said he identified both the victim and Ennis to Gately and asked Gately to care for the victim, according to court documents.
Phone records show that shortly after Smith’s call, Gately spoke to Ennis for just over a minute.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, whose department investigated the alleged sexual assault, was critical of the fact that Gately was alerted to the incident.
“We could have helped the victim,” he said of the rationale that Gately needed to be alerted because of his position on the personnel assistance team. “They didn’t have to do anything. It’s just not a good idea to tell anyone about a criminal investigation, especially early on in the process.”
Knezovich, who has served as a union president twice, also said a union president generally is not involved in a criminal investigation.
Court documents show that Smith, the assistant chief, was briefed about the progress of the case the morning after it allegedly occurred. He also was told investigators would be obtaining a search warrant for Ennis and hoped to have it by 11 a.m. At 11 a.m. Smith had a face-to-face meeting with Gately to talk to him about the investigation and how the victim was doing, according to court documents.
Internal Affairs Sgt. David Staben also relayed to Gately the investigators’ hope to have a search warrant by 11 a.m. and gave him details about the criminal investigation, court documents say.
But at 11:20 a.m. the internal affairs sergeant sent an email to Gately that said “they are still writing the warrant,” court documents say.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m. Gately met with police spokeswoman Officer Teresa Fuller about a news release Fuller was writing that named Ennis as the officer under investigation. Fuller asked Gately if he wanted to notify Ennis about the news release, according to court records. She said Gately replied he would notify Ennis.
Fuller said she sent the news release that named Ennis to Gately at 11:37 a.m. The version sent to the media at 4:37 p.m. that day did not include Ennis’ name.
At noon Staben, the internal affairs officer, went to Gately’s office to tell him that the search warrant wouldn’t be ready for several more hours.
“Sgt. Gately told him that he had called Sgt. Ennis earlier that day and that Sgt. Ennis up until that point was unaware of the criminal investigation against him,” investigators wrote in court documents.
Phone records show that Gately called Ennis at 11:36 a.m. on Oct. 26 and the two talked for six minutes and 44 seconds, according to court documents. Immediately after that call, phone records show that Ennis sent out multiple texts asking for attorney contact information and called several attorneys.
Beginning at 2:09 p.m. on Oct. 26 Ennis exchanged texts with his wife, one of which said the Sheriff’s Office was investigating the sexual assault accusation and that he would be served with a warrant at 3 p.m., according to court documents. Another text said Gately would serve administrative leave papers on him.
The search warrant for Ennis’ DNA and cellphone records was not approved until 2:28 p.m. Detectives have frequently written in court documents that they believed Ennis had been tipped off about the warrant since he and his attorney knew about it before it was written.