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Sunday, October 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Former Spokane Police Guild president accused of telling officer about rape investigation suspended for month

UPDATED: Mon., March 6, 2017, 3:51 p.m.

FILE – Spokane Police Sgt. John Gately was arraigned in Suuperior Court on  Dec. 21, 2015. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE – Spokane Police Sgt. John Gately was arraigned in Suuperior Court on Dec. 21, 2015. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The former Spokane Police Guild president accused of sharing confidential information about a rape investigation involving a fellow officer will be suspended for four weeks without pay following an internal investigation.

In addition to the suspension, Sgt. John Gately will be removed from the Peer Assistance Team, a group tasked with supporting fellow officers.

The internal investigation was completed Feb. 10, about nine months after Gately’s trial on a charge of obstructing justice, and obtained by The Spokesman-Review after a public records request.

Chief Craig Meidl suspended Gately against the recommendation of a department panel that concluded Gately did not violate department policy.

“Your involvement in this incident has brought great embarrassment and discredit to the Spokane Police Department. This is not the type of behavior that I will tolerate from any of our employees,” Meidl wrote.

He said he made the decision not to fire Gately because of his 30 years of experience and the culpability of police department command staff who involved Gately in the rape investigation.

Gately may appeal the claim, though it’s not yet clear if he’s done so. Gately’s attorney, David Allen, said he wasn’t involved with the internal investigation but had reached out to Gately for comment.

Prosecutors took Gately to trial last spring, alleging he tipped off an officer accused of raping another officer at a party about a pending search warrants. The jury deadlocked, with a majority in favor of acquittal, and Prosecutor Larry Haskell declined to re-try the case.

The case concerned two phone calls Gately made to Sgt. Gordon Ennis after a trainee officer accused Ennis of raping her at a department party. The calls occurred before Ennis was arrested or charged.

The assistant police chief at the time, Selby Smith, testified at trial he notified Gately about the incident so Gately could provide assistance to the victim in his role as a member of the peer team. Gately was the president of the Spokane Police Guild at the time, and Smith called Gately on a non-department cellphone which he mostly used for Guild business.

Gately called a fellow officer who was with the victim to check on her, but also called Ennis and told him not to make any statements about the alleged crime except in an official capacity.

Gately later told Ennis detectives were coming to execute a search warrant and that they would probably want his DNA. Immediately after that call, Ennis hired attorney Rob Cossey, who contacted investigators from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to coordinate the search warrant.

When detectives arrived to serve the warrant, they found Ennis’ nails were freshly trimmed, which prevented them from collecting trace DNA evidence.

An administrative panel made up of Capt. Brad Arleth, Capt. Dave Singley, Lt. Joe Walker, Lt. Steve Wohl and Lt. Jon Anderson reviewed the Gately investigation in November and concluded Gately did not violate department policy because he did not act with malicious intent.

The panel’s conclusions placed blame on Smith for notifying Gately about the rape investigation, and noted Smith never said the information was confidential.

Gately “testified under oath that he did not intentionally release information to Gordon Ennis or advise him to destroy potential evidence,” the panel wrote.

The panel recommended future issues as serious as the accusations against Ennis be handled at the administrative or command level, without involving other officers.

While Meidl agreed Smith should not have notified Gately of the investigation, Meidl concluded Gately should have known better than to further involve himself in a criminal investigation.

Gately will be allowed to take one week of unpaid leave per month until he serves all four, the letter said.

Ennis’ trial on the rape charge is currently scheduled for June 9 in Spokane County Superior Court.

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