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Former Spokane police Sgt. Gordon Ennis sentenced to 7-year prison term for rape

Aug. 24, 2018 Updated Fri., Aug. 24, 2018 at 6:34 p.m.

Former Spokane Police Officer Gordon Ennis reacts after he was sentenced to 7-year prison term for rape on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, at the Spokane County Courthouse in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Former Spokane Police Officer Gordon Ennis reacts after he was sentenced to 7-year prison term for rape on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, at the Spokane County Courthouse in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Former Spokane Police Sgt. Gordon Ennis’ voice stammered and slowed Friday afternoon as he apologized for many things. The department’s reputation he tarnished. The letdown of his friends and family.

And he apologized to his victim for the “profound and life-changing impact” that night brought her.

“I know it’s affected my family’s life,” he said, reading from a letter. “It had to affect her family’s life.”

A judge then sentenced him to seven years to life in prison for sexually assaulting a fellow officer. At the end of his minimum time in prison, he’ll sit before the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, which could extend his stay or release him from custody.

Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno, who oversaw the case through trial, said she was sympathetic to Ennis and his family, who testified Friday on his character and role as a longtime police officer. However, she said she also believed the victim, who told the court her love and passion for law enforcement was betrayed by Ennis.

“She was young and bright-eyed,” Moreno said. “And really gung-ho. This was her career she was excited about. And in a flash it was gone.”

In March, a jury convicted the former officer of second-degree rape after just two hours of deliberation following the two-weekslong trial that detailed heavy drinking by several officers during a party at Officer Doug Strosahl’s Colbert home in October 2015.

At times speaking on behalf of the victim, who was not present in court, Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald said Ennis should receive the maximum of 10 years in his sentencing range.

He has “consistently demonstrated blaming others” and has shown a “lack of personal responsibility,” she said. “There is no excuse or explanation that can justify the defendant’s actions.

“This is an individual that presents a significant danger to people who are vulnerable.”

As recently as last week, Ennis fought his conviction by alleging that the victim was confused that night and mistook him for Strosahl.

“He is a convicted rapist for the rest of his life,” Fitzgerald said. “And his sentence should reflect what he did to (the victim). And the position he was in and who he was. He is, in the end, a sex offender. And that is an appropriate label. Rapist is an appropriate label.”

During his trial, Ennis told the jury the victim was the sexual aggressor and led him into a secluded room where they proceeded to have sexual contact.

The victim told officers and testified in court that she was too drunk to remember what happened that night until waking up to Ennis’ fingers aggressively penetrating her vagina.

Ennis’ family and friends, who other than victim advocates and media filled the courtroom benches, took turns testifying on the former officer’s character in hopes for a minimum sentence of six years. Many of them also submitted letters that were used for a pre-sentencing report. No law enforcement officers were present in court.

Melanie Bell, Ennis’ step-mother-in-law, said she’s known him for 23 years. She said he was always an attentive father and devoted much of his time volunteering as a soccer coach.

“This man is a very honorable man,” she said. “And was a great asset to our family.”

Phillip Ennis, Ennis’ father, said he’s received “literally dozens” of phone calls and letters from people who “really knew” Ennis and think he’s innocent.

“Every one of them said this is wrong,” he said. “I know Gordon. Really know Gordon. And I know there is no way he would have done this.”

Ennis’ wife, Kirsten Ennis, who was present in court, did not testify.

After hearing from Ennis friends and family, Judge Moreno told them it was “devastating” to see the faces of Ennis’ family and children during and after trial. But, she said she also had to remember the victim’s story.

“When you have a conviction like this and this behavior, it tends to wipe out, sometimes, a lot of the good things you’ve done in your life,” she said. “When you come here and you have this now as part of who you are, it tends to tip those scales a bit.”

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