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Sunday, October 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Trial for former WDFW official accused of raping coworker to begin

By Amelia Dickson Olympian

The trial is set to begin Tuesday for a former Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife employee accused of raping a coworker in December 2014.

The Olympia Police Department arrested Gregory A. Schirato, now 55, in April of 2015 – nearly four months after the alleged sexual assault occurred. He is charged in Thurston County Superior Court with one count of second-degree rape and one count of first-degree burglary.

The trial is scheduled to last eight days, and will take place before Judge Christine Schaller.

Officers responded to the victim’s Olympia home at about 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2014, after the woman reported that someone had broken into her home and raped her the night before.

The woman said that she had been at a party until late that night and was intoxicated when she came home, according to court documents. She fell asleep and woke up at some point to somebody touching her. She believed it was her boyfriend and went back to sleep.

When she woke up the next morning, her pants were pulled down and her bra was unclasped. The woman called her boyfriend, who said he hadn’t been at her house that night. She noticed that a window on her door was broken and called the police, according to court documents.

The woman said that Schirato was an acquaintance, and he had been at the party on the night of the alleged rape. She said that she and Schirato had previously had a sexual relationship.

A detective received a search warrant allowing him to retrieve the suit Schirato allegedly had been wearing the night of the party and a DNA sample. Shards of clear glass matching the victim’s broken window were found on the suit.

According to court documents, DNA collected from the victim’s bra is 5.4 quadrillion times more likely to have come from Schirato than from any other member of the U.S. population.

Following the alleged rape, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hired a law firm to investigate allegations of sexual harassment within the department. Schirato was a division leader at the state agency.

The firm, MFR Law Group, found that a group of workers in the agency’s upper echelon often held or tolerated sexually explicit conversations at work. Some engaged in other inappropriate behavior both on the clock and after hours.

MFR Law Group also reported that the behavior, including at least one case of workplace sexual harassment, largely went unreported and unaddressed by the agency’s top leaders.

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