Days before a mistrial was declared in the rape trial of former Spokane police Sgt. Gordon Ennis, prosecutors in the case asked that Ennis be put in jail for violating his release conditions. A judge denied their request.
Ennis is accused of assaulting a female police officer at a party in October 2015. He was charged with second-degree rape in December of that year and placed on unpaid layoff status with the police department.
Ennis was released immediately after he was booked into Spokane County Jail. His release conditions required that he have no contact with Officer Doug Strosahl, who held the party at his house where the alleged rape occurred, or Sgt. John Gately, who was then president of the Spokane Police Guild.
The conditions also specified that he have “no contact or discussion with any member of local law enforcement regarding the above matter.”
Both sides agree that those terms were violated, but disagree on how.
Rob Cossey, Ennis’ attorney, said his client thought he could have contact with law enforcement as long as he didn’t discuss the case. Ennis was recently at a wedding where several police officers, including some on the witness list for his trial, were present. He greeted and spoke to several of them, Cossey said.
“There was a misinterpretation of the conditions,” Cossey said.
However, deputy prosecuting attorney Kelly Fitzgerald said that while she was aware of the wedding, that’s not why she asked to have Ennis put in jail.
Fitzgerald said Ennis asked a third party to contact Strosahl to ask Strosahl to get in touch with Ennis’ attorney about the case. He also asked someone to contact Strosahl’s wife, who helped host the party and is also on the witness list. Those contacts were made, she said.
“Mr. Strosahl was not happy about the contact,” Fitzgerald said.
Strosahl’s attorney, Joe Sullivan, notified her of the third-party contact with his client, Fitzgerald said. Even though the contact wasn’t direct, it was still a violation of the release conditions, she said.
“No contact is no contact,” she said.
Sullivan declined to comment when reached by phone this week.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge James Triplet denied Fitzgerald’s request but clarified that “defendant shall have no direct or third-party contact with any witness or local law enforcement.”
“A violation of conditions of release has been committed by defendant,” Triplet wrote in his handwritten order. “Court makes no conclusion as to defendant’s purpose.”
Cossey did not return a second call seeking comment about Ennis’ attempt to contact Strosahl.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.