Two alleged sexual assault victims recently filed a civil lawsuit against Judge Scott D. Gallina and Asotin County in federal court.
The 33-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Washington accuses numerous county employees of failing to respond to harassment complaints against the Superior Court judge, who is facing felony charges for alleged sexual misconduct, including second-degree rape and indecent liberties. Gallina, 56, has been on paid administrative leave since his arrest in 2019 and is awaiting a trial date.
In the civil case, plaintiffs Jennifer E. Grant and Tammy L. Tenny said Asotin County officials allowed Gallina’s “sexually aggressive” behavior to continue after they brought it to their attention. The women are represented by attorneys Victoria L. Vreeland and Diego Rondon Ichikawa of Bellevue, Wash., who are requesting a jury trial and an unspecified amount of damages.
The Lewiston Tribune does not typically identify victims of alleged sexual assault in criminal cases. It does, however, identify the plaintiffs in civil lawsuits.
Before his arrest, Gallina was on the bench for five years in Asotin, Garfield and Columbia counties. Tenny is employed as a court administrator, and Grant previously worked in the clerk’s office.
According to the court documents, Gallina allegedly told Tenny he was “flirtatious” and was not going to change his behavior. She alleges he made sexually-charged comments, and his conduct escalated to unwanted groping and attempts to kiss her.
“Despite Tenny’s efforts, Judge Gallina did not relent but instead became increasingly sexually aggressive towards her,” according to the complaint. “He used his large, imposing size and stature, along with his position, to overpower and intimidate her. On several occasions, he shoved Tenny against a wall and restrained her with his body and hands to try forcefully to kiss her. At other times, he grabbed and shoved Tenny so hard he left bruises on her body.”
Tenny alleges she made complaints to the county officials and received dismissive and cavalier responses, ranging from “That’s just Scott; he’s a big flirt,” to “Don’t rock the boat.”
In the lawsuit, Tenny said she talked to Clerk McKenzie Campbell, Chief Financial Officer Chris Kemp, District Court Judge Tina Kernan, former human resources manager Vivian Bly, and Superior Court Commissioner Brooke Burns about his alleged misconduct and sexual harassment.
“Most expressed fear or unwillingness to do anything because of Gallina’s position as the Superior Court judge,” according to the lawsuit.
Grant said she was warned about the judge being a “pervert,” but her superiors did not offer any help to protect her. She alleges Gallina made sexually inappropriate comments, which escalated to unwelcome touching and sexual assaults in his chambers.
In addition to the clerk, Grant said Deputy Clerk Nicole Farris, Prosecutor Ben Nichols and the county’s human resources department did nothing to help her.
In response to Tenny’s complaints, Bly allegedly said the judge was just a “big teddy bear” and the female employees are “big girls who can take care of themselves.”
The county is liable because it failed to remedy the hostile work environment and “knowingly turned a blind-eye to his misconduct,” according to court documents.
Three years after Tenny’s first report, Asotin County asked its insurance provider to look into the allegations. The investigation was turned over to the Washington State Patrol in 2019 after nine employees from various departments reported Gallina’s sexual harassment. His alleged misconduct included repeated comments about their breasts and sexual matters, unwanted slapping of their buttocks, groping, massages and back rubs.
The state attorney general’s office charged Gallina with second-degree rape, indecent liberties and four counts of third-degree assault with sexual motivation. He has denied all wrongdoing.
Sandaine may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.