Spokane, WA — A young woman was allegedly raped at a party hosted by Spokane resident Doug Strosahl last October. When Spokane Police Sergeant John Gately learned the identity of the alleged rapist, he behaved in harmony with what he perceived to be his highest ethical duty: He contacted the suspect, fellow Spokane Sgt. Gordon Ennis, to warn him that he was the focus of a criminal investigation, and advise him of the contents of a search warrant that was being prepared.

Sgt. Gately, the head of the Spokane Police Guild, was charged last Friday with felony first-degree obstruction and rendering criminal assistance to a suspect, reports the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

“Our major concern is once we started investigating this was that somebody apparently tipped the suspect off as far as the search warrant and the components of the search warrant,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told KXLY News on November 13. “That’s unacceptable.” At the time, Gately’s conduct resulted only in a paid suspension. Criminal charges were filed following a search of the police union official’s phone.

For people not protected by Blue Privilege, felony charges usually result in an arrest, and when this occurs on a Friday the suspect will spend the weekend behind bars. However, “There was no indication in documents available late Friday [as to] when Gately is expected to be booked into the Spokane County jail,” continues the Spokesman-Review report. “His arraignment is scheduled for December 21.”

Ennis was one of several police officers who had gathered at Strosahl’s home for a party. During that get-together, Ennis allegedly assaulted a fellow officer. A woman who attended described passing out after having several drinks. Upon waking up early the following morning in a guest bedroom, she found Ennis sitting next to her, with his hand down her pants. Ennis has been charged with second-degree rape and will be arraigned on December 7.

Ennis remained on paid leave until December 4, the day that charges were filed against Gately.

On October 25, a friend of the victim – who reportedly is also a police officer — called Assistant Chief Selby Smith, who in turn contacted Gately to inform him about the allegation, as well as the identities of both the victim and the suspect. The Assistant Chief reportedly asked Gately to “care for the victim.” The police union official, who belongs to the department’s Personnel Assistance Team, acted on different priorities, placing a brief phone call to the suspect to warn him about the investigation.

“We could have helped the victim,” complains Sheriff Knezovich, pointing out that it wasn’t necessary for the SPD’s Personnel Assistance Team to get involved. “They didn’t have to do anything. It’s just not a good idea to tell anyone about a criminal investigation, especially early on in the process.”

Since this is a case in which both the alleged victim and accused perpetrators are police officers, it would be expected that the Personnel Assistance Team would focus on the needs of the former, rather than on protecting the latter. Gately heads a union notorious for “defending the troublemakers, lawbreakers, and liars among its ranks,” observes the Inlander, an independent Spokane-area journal. The guilt “has come to symbolize the department’s problems, stirring accusations of cronyism, dysfunction and entrenchment. Some critics have even likened the union to the mafia.”

Gately’s reaction to the reported rape of a female colleague would make perfect sense as an application of the blue mafia’s version of omerta – a code of silence under which a sexually exploited woman would be expected to remain silent for the sake of the tribe.