Superior Court judge busted at the courthouse on suspicion of rape and assault

Judge Scott D. Gallina of the Hells Canyon Circuit, based in Asotin, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of criminal sexual misconduct.
Judge Scott D. Gallina of the Hells Canyon Circuit, based in Asotin, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of criminal sexual misconduct. Asotin County

Update on this story: Judge plans to fight courthouse rape, sex assault charges

A superior court judge based in Asotin was arrested at the courthouse Wednesday on suspicion of criminal sexual misconduct.

Judge Scott D. Gallina’s arrest came nearly two weeks after Asotin County sheriff’s officials asked investigators with the Washington State Patrol to get involved because of a potential conflict of interest.

Gallina, 55, was booked into the Walla Walla County jail at 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to online jail records.

He is being held on suspicion of second-degree rape, second-degree assault and indecent liberties, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a news release.

The case is being handled by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office at the request of the Asotin County prosecutor.

“We are reviewing the investigation and we expect to have a decision on possible criminal charges (Thursday),” Ferguson said in the news release. “My office has been and will continue to work closely with the State Patrol to investigate the allegations.”

The State Patrol and the Attorney General’s Office did not disclose any details about the allegations.

Arrest after civil hearing

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Gallina was arrested by Asotin County sheriff’s deputies and State Patrol troopers following a civil hearing in the Asotin County Courthouse.

Gallina has been with the Hells Canyon Circuit Court covering Asotin, Columbia and Garfield counties since May 2014, when he was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

He replaced retired Judge William Acey.

Gallina was then elected by the voters in November 2014, and again in November 2016.

Washington State Bar records show he got his license to practice in 1991.

He is a graduate of Washington State University and the University of Idaho College of Law.

State takes over investigation

A news release Wednesday from the Washington State Patrol said it was asked to take over the investigation March 29 because it involved a public official accused of misconduct.

“From time to time, law enforcement agencies across the state request that we take specific roles in an investigation so there can be no question of the transparency, fairness and thoroughness of the process,” Chief John Batiste said.

“We take this responsibility quite seriously, and I appreciate the hard work done by the WSP personnel involved, as well as the professionalism and cooperation provided by the other agencies involved.”

Anyone with information about the allegations or potential victims is encouraged to call Detective Sgt. Greg Tri or Detective Scott Neustel with the State Patrol at 509-249-6743.

‘A position of power’

“Victims of sexual abuse are often afraid to tell anyone, especially when the accused abuser has a position of power,” said Lt. Randy Hullinger with the WSP’s Criminal Investigation Division.

“Victims can sometimes think they themselves did something wrong or they may get into trouble or be embarrassed by revealing what has happened to them”

“Our detectives understand those concerns and work hard to respect the privacy rights of possible victims and to understand the emotional toll that situations like this bring,” Hullinger added.

“Most importantly, in all harmful situations, we work hard to make sure that the abuse stops and those who harm others face appropriate consequences.”

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.