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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Former Spokane police officer faces rape trial Monday

UPDATED: Fri., June 9, 2017, 10:42 p.m.

Spokane police officer Sgt. Gordon Ennis appears for court on Dec. 7, 2015, for his arraignment on a second-degree rape charge. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane police officer Sgt. Gordon Ennis appears for court on Dec. 7, 2015, for his arraignment on a second-degree rape charge. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Jury selection for the rape trial of former Spokane police Sgt. Gordon Ennis is expected to start Monday, with attorneys calling in an extra-large pool of 120 potential jurors due to the high-profile nature of the case.

The trial is expected to last two weeks, though defense attorney Rob Cossey has indicated that he only intends to call six witnesses. Ennis is not on the list. Prosecutors intend to call more than 20 witnesses, including guests at the party where the alleged rape occurred, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office detectives who investigated the case, and forensic experts.

Prosecutors Kelly Fitzgerald and Kyle Treece have also made several motions to restrict what Cossey and witnesses can say in the courtroom. Among the requests is that the victim, a fellow police officer, should not be called a “slut” and that there should be no references to her “getting what she deserved.”

The attorneys also do not want Ennis referred to as a police officer during testimony, do not want any references to the victim’s sexual history and request that Cossey be barred from suggesting to the jury that Ennis has already suffered “sufficient punishment” by losing his job with the Spokane Police Department.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge James Triplet, who will oversee the trial, has not yet ruled on the motions.

Ennis was one of several police officers and civilians at a party hosted by police Officer Doug Strosahl on Oct. 24, 2015. A female officer, who knew Ennis, reported that she passed out after having several drinks and woke up in a guest bedroom to find Ennis sitting next to her with his hand down her pants, fondling her.

She said that once Ennis realized she was awake, he said, “I’ve gotta go,” and quickly left, according to court documents.

The victim called and texted several people to tell them what had happened, and told Strosahl before she left his home in the morning. Strosahl reportedly told her he didn’t know what to do and then left the room, according to court documents.

The victim’s DNA was found on a swab taken from the seat belt and parking brake of Ennis’ car, court documents state.

No DNA was collected from under Ennis’ fingernails because his nails had been trimmed extremely short. Investigators believe that he had been tipped off about a search warrant by Sgt. John Gately, then-president of the Spokane Police Guild.

In 2016, Gately was charged with two felony counts of rendering criminal assistance and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a law enforcement officer. The two felonies were dropped, and Gately stood trial on the misdemeanor charge. The jury deadlocked in favor of acquittal, and the case was not retried.

Earlier this year, Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl suspended Gately for four weeks without pay following an internal investigation.

The victim was wearing borrowed clothes at the time of the assault, but the clothes were washed before investigators could get a search warrant to request them.

Strosahl was investigated for possible evidence tampering, but he was cleared after his fiancee said that Strosahl went back to bed after he spoke to the victim and she washed the clothes while he was asleep, before she learned of the alleged rape.

An internal investigation will be done to see if Strosahl complied with the department’s policies and procedures, since he failed to notify his superiors of the rape allegation. Meidl said this week that the investigation is on hold until the criminal trial is over.

“We want to avoid any potential double jeopardy issues on an internal investigation if new information comes out at the criminal trial,” Meidl said.

Both Strosahl and Gately are scheduled to testify during Ennis’ trial.

Ennis was placed on paid administrative leave after the rape allegation surfaced. He was placed on unpaid layoff status in December 2015 after felony criminal charges were filed against him.

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