ASOTIN — The Washington state Attorney General’s office is seeking permission to file three additional counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation in an ongoing case against Hells Canyon Circuit Court Judge Scott D. Gallina.
Gallina, who has been on the bench in Asotin, Garfield and Columbia counties for the past five years, is already facing charges of second-degree rape, indecent liberties and two counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation involving two victims. Gallina has pleaded innocent to all of those charges.
According to court documents, one of the pending new charges against Gallina involves a third potential victim who was interviewed by the Washington State Patrol during its investigation of alleged sexual misconduct by the judge.
In the latest information, the woman verified she made it “crystal clear” to Gallina that his behavior and actions needed to “absolutely stop” in the summer of 2017. A few weeks later, the judge allegedly directed the woman to come around his desk before he would sign the paperwork she needed. He then ran his hand from the woman’s ankle to her buttocks and massaged her before letting her go, according to court documents.
After the alleged incident, the woman told the WSP she made the decision to never put herself in a situation where she was alone with Gallina. However, the inappropriate comments allegedly continued.
When the woman walked by Gallina, he reportedly made remarks such as, “That’s what I like to see. I wish I could take that home,” according to the supplemental information filed Monday in Asotin County.
The information indicates another alleged victim was able to verify two more incidents involving the judge during follow-up interviews with police. On one occasion, Gallina allegedly forcefully bent the woman over the end of his desk and made sexually related comments.
The same woman wrote the judge a letter in September asking him to stop his “lewd and lascivious” behavior. After the letter was sent, Gallina allegedly forced her against a wall in his judicial chambers and kissed her on the neck before letting her go, according to the documents.
Nine women reported varying degrees of workplace sexual misconduct by Gallina from the time he was appointed to the bench in 2014 to when the investigation was launched this spring. The women said the judge routinely made sexually suggestive comments and touched them in a sexual manner without consent, according to court documents.
Some of the alleged victims reported they eventually developed what they referred to as a “safety plan,” where they would keep track of each other in an effort to prevent anyone from being alone with Gallina in his chambers.
One woman told authorities she made an online report to a judicial oversight entity, but nothing ever happened. Another woman submitted a complaint to human resources, which triggered an investigation by Asotin County’s insurance carrier and led to a criminal investigation by the state. Most of the women, whose names are not being released per Lewiston Tribune policy, reported they feared for their safety because of the judge’s conduct and authority, according to the documents.
Gallina was arrested April 10 at the Asotin County Courthouse. No-contact orders prevent him from entering the building until the case is resolved.
On April 11, the state charged Gallina with second-degree rape and indecent liberties by forcible compulsion, both Class A felonies, and one count of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, a gross misdemeanor. An additional fourth-degree assault charge was filed May 6, the same day Gallina was arraigned and entered innocent pleas to all charges.
The 55-year-old Clarkston resident is on paid administrative leave while his case makes its way through the court system and remains out of custody on bond. Other judges from the area have been covering the Superior Court docket in all three counties since his arrest.
His attorney, Carl Oreskovich, has repeatedly said Gallina maintains his innocence and will vehemently fight the charges. Oreskovich is in the middle of a murder trial in Spokane and could not be reached Wednesday for comment on the possibility of three more charges.
Spokane County Judge Michael Price, who is presiding over the case, will make a decision on whether the charges will be amended at a future hearing, which has yet to be set.
Gallina is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing Aug. 23 in Price’s Spokane courtroom, and a tentative trial date is on the calendar for Sept. 30 in Asotin County. Oreskovich has said he will mount an aggressive defense when the case goes to trial.
The state’s case will be presented by Assistant Attorney General Melanie Tratnik, who is handling the prosecution, along with state attorney Sean Waite.