ASOTIN — Two tort claims have been filed against Asotin County by employees who allege they were sexually harassed and assaulted by a Superior Court judge at the workplace.
In the claims, Bellevue attorney Benjamin P. Compton, who is representing both alleged victims, said damages may reach or exceed $500,000 in each case. The tort claims are precursors to lawsuits against the government entity and tied to an ongoing criminal case against Judge Scott D. Gallina, who has pleaded innocent to seven sexual misconduct charges.
According to the claims, the judge engaged in a long-term pattern of sexual harassment and assault, and the county failed to provide a safe workplace and remedy a hostile work environment and did not promptly or adequately respond to reports and complaints made by the two women now represented by Compton.
Asotin County management, supervisors and leadership have been on notice of Gallina’s “propensities and wrongful conduct toward women for some time,” according to the documents.
One of the alleged victims has sustained damages for medical care, counseling, wage loss, emotional distress and will likely suffer extended damages because the county failed to provide administrative paid leave, according to the claim. The other alleged victim said she has sustained damages for medical care, counseling and emotional suffering.
The exact amount of damages is uncertain, the attorney said, and the estimated amount is based on jury awards and settlements in similar cases.
Gallina, 55, has been on paid administrative leave as the criminal case makes its way through court. His pretrial hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 6 before Spokane County Judge Michael Price in a Spokane courtroom.
The trial is tentatively set to begin Sept. 30 in Asotin County, but likely will be moved to a later date.
Gallina, who presides over Superior Court cases in Asotin, Columbia and Garfield counties, is charged with second-degree rape, indecent liberties and five counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation for alleged crimes against three women employed at the Asotin County Courthouse. The third alleged victim has not filed any claims against the county.