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Spokane police officer says she has been shunned after accusing senior officer of sexual assault

Feb. 27, 2018 Updated Wed., Feb. 28, 2018 at 1:59 p.m.

Gordon Ennis (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gordon Ennis (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Dressed in a dark blouse, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, the Spokane police officer who accused a senior officer of sexually assaulting her described how she has been ostracized by many of her co-workers.

She cried. And so did some in the audience and jury.

Through more than three hours of testimony Tuesday in the second-degree rape trail against former police Sgt. Gordon Ennis, the young officer described her transition from hopeful exuberance at having just started her job as a full-time Spokane police officer – something she’d dreamed about for much of her adult life – to the night in question, when everything unraveled and fell apart.

“I’ve had friends not talk to me ever again,” she said. “I walk into the room and people glare at me. People see me in public and immediately duck to avoid me. A lot of rumors.”

She told the jury about how she used to love her job. In fact, it was her accomplishment in becoming an officer that she was celebrating that night with other employees and their friends.

“I had my job up on this pedestal that it was the greatest thing ever, and I was so thankful to be a police officer and work for the city,” she said. “And just like that I never wanted to work again. Because very quickly it was evident that people I thought who had my best interest didn’t.”

The woman testified that before that night, she was good friends with Officer Doug Strosahl, who hosted the small get-together at his home in Colbert. For the past few years, the woman looked up to Strosahl as a mentor, especially since he was one of her instructors in the Criminal Justice program at Spokane Community College.

She also admired Ennis, who was initially her firearms instructor in the Police Academy. As a sergeant in the department, he was also responsible for his own patrol team. And while he wasn’t the victim’s superior within her unit, she did have weekly contact with him.

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“Based on your work experience with the defendant, did you respect him,” prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Did you have any negative experiences with him at that point?” the attorney said.

“No,” she said, crying.

That respect and admiration is what initially led her to wait 18 hours after the assault occurred to contact law enforcement in an official capacity. Before she made that decision, she told other law enforcement officers, with varying degrees of success.

The first was Officer Strosahl, who slept in a nearby bedroom while the woman says she was being fondled by Ennis. After she told him the following morning, she said his answer was something she didn’t expect.

“He downplayed it,” she said. “And then he asked if I need any water and then left the room.”

“When did he come back?” Fitzgerald asked.

“He didn’t,” she said.

Throughout the two days so far of testimony, defense attorney Rob Cossey has worked to introduce doubt into the state’s case by asserting the woman was not as drunk as she contends. And, that there was a flirtatious or budding romantic relationship between the two before the alleged assault.

Again, he pressed witnesses on how coherent the woman was, and asked repeatedly how much she had to drink.

From the beginning, the state has argued that the woman drank three or four Angry Orchard brand hard ciders, which were mixed with shots of Fireball whiskey, and another shot of whiskey at some point in the night. The victim testified herself in court and two days after the assault that she thought she drank three ciders mixed with alcohol and the shot, though she also tried some of Ennis’ drink in a hot tub.

The woman said that would amount to about nine drinks of alcohol in the span of about four or five hours, from when she arrived at the party at around 7:30 p.m. and passed out around midnight. The guests were also in a hot tub for about an hour, which may have contributed to sweating and further dehydration.

The victim also testified that her memory was hazy after the party moved into the living room around 11 p.m., and after that, it was almost nonexistent. All she could remember were “screen shots” in her head – a crowded hot tub, puking in a toilet or trash can, a room she didn’t recognize.

Until, at around 3 a.m., she said she awoke to Ennis seated next to her, his left hand inside her pants.

“What woke you up?” Fitzgerald asked.

“The feeling of thrusting in my pants,” she said calmly, her eyes wet with tears. Fitzgerald then asked what specifically was in her pants.

“Gordon’s hands,” she replied.

She said she was crying, and remembers facial hair rubbing against her face, and the hat he was wearing. How he said, “Uh, I gotta go,” and left.

Prosecutors showed a photo of her from earlier in the night, taken by someone else at the party. On her left is Strosahl in a large cowboy hat. On her right, Ennis. They’re all smiling.

When asked why, based on her training as a police officer, the woman did nothing to defend herself when she woke up to someone assaulting her, she broke down again.

“It’s not something I played through in my head,” she said. “And so I woke up shocked.”

“Why were you shocked?” Fitzgerald asked.

“Because I trusted him,” she said.

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