The sound of clicking handcuffs rose above the cries of family and friends as they embraced former Spokane Police Sgt. Gordon Ennis. After about two hours of deliberation, a jury of eight men and seven women convicted Ennis of second-degree rape. The victim was at the time, and still is, an SPD officer.
Following the jury's verdict, the lead detective on the case, Brandon Armstrong, only said "the jury spoke." Prosecutors declined to comment.
Ennis could face a maximum eight-and-a-half-year sentence.
During closing argument Wednesday, attorneys presented jurors with wildly different versions of the night and early morning hours in late October 2015.
Spokane County Prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald described how the victim was so intoxicated that she threw up, needed help changing into clean clothes and twice had to be put to bed. Then she was awoken shortly before 3 am to Ennis penetrating her vagina with his fingers,
"When no one was left to care for [the victim], when no one was left to watch over her, when she was unable to say 'No,' when she was unable to say 'Stop,' ... the defendant sexually assaulted [her]," Fitzgerald told the jury.
She continued to paint Ennis as a man who believes the rules do not apply to him. She recalled the fact Ennis was tipped off to the rape investigation, which began in 2015, by a fellow cop, SPD Sgt. John Gately. Following a conversation with Gately, Fitzgerald claimed Ennis clipped his fingernails too short for detectives to collect DNA evidence. Fitzgerald told jurors that Ennis did this in order to hide his crime (Ennis denies this and has said he trimmed his nails days earlier).
Fitzgerald also recalled the fact that Ennis twice violated the terms of his release from jail before trial by speaking with, and attempting to contact, SPD Officer Doug Strosahl, who was a witness in the case. (Ennis has said they spoke at a wedding, but did not speak about the case.)
"The defendant had hoped first that he would go undetected because [the victim] was not in any condition, he thought, to remember or report," Fitzgerald says. "He hoped to go undetected because [the victim] would have to take on the defendant, would have to take on her department and would have to risk her career that she grew up watching her father do, and dreamed of being."
Ennis' defense attorney, Rob Cossey
, gave a completely different version of events
that portrayed the victim as a sexually aggressive instigator who lied about the alleged assault.
"She was coherent, she was consenting, she was part of the interaction that they were doing," Cossey says. "It started earlier in the evening, and culminated between 2:30 and 3 am, where it escalated to where it shouldn't have. But at the period of time, she had her full faculties, knew what was going on, and was a willing participant."
Cossey highlighted the fact that the alleged assault must have taken place between 2:38 am, when Ennis and the victim entered the guest bedroom together, and 3 am, when Ennis left the house.
"Is the state asking you to say that she immediately fell asleep, and Gordon waited until 3 o'clock, and did this? Is that consistent? Does that make sense?"
In a prepared statement, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl said the department "will continue to support the officer involved and ensure she has all the available resources to assist her on both a personal and professional level," referring to the victim, who is still employed as a SPD officer.
"She is a valuable member of our agency and we will ensure that we do everything in our power to help her in the healing process.
"This has been a difficult time for everyone — those directly involved, their families and friends, our community and our department. The serious impact this incident, investigation and trial has had cannot be disregarded or minimized.
"We have confidence and respect for due process of the criminal justice system. With that said, we will not be able to comment further as we know an appeals process could follow after today's guilty verdict."