Ex-judge gets 15 months for sex assault against co-workers

Close-up of judge gavel

A former judge in southeastern Washington state who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two former court employees over several years was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Spokane County Judge Michael Price sentenced Scott Gallina last month, the Lewiston Tribune reported. Price handed down his decision after listening to statements from a victim, the former judge, Gallina’s family members, and attorneys for the state and defendant. The sentencing range was 13 to 27 months in prison.

In April, Gallina pleaded guilty to third-degree assault with sexual motivation, a felony, and fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, a gross misdemeanor, as part of a plea deal, and had charges of rape and indecent liberties dismissed. He was formerly the Superior Court judge for Asotin, Garfield and Columbia counties.

Price hailed the women as heroes for speaking out about the pervasive sexual harassment and assaults in the workplace.

RELATED: Washington judge arrested in sexual misconduct investigation

"I’m overwhelmed by your courage, and awestruck by your dignity," he said. "If you hadn’t spoken out, I have no doubt this outrageous behavior would’ve continued."

The judge told Gallina he bears him no ill will, but he was "stunned" by what he read in the presentence investigation.

Instead of demonstrating remorse for his actions, Gallina focused on his regrets about what the case did to his family, income and career, Price said. The blame was shifted to the victims, when Gallina continued to imply it was all nonsense, and the women were lying for some kind of monetary gain, the judge said.

"I was hoping you’d say, ‘my behavior was outrageous and wrong,’ and that you’re profoundly sorry," Price said.

In court, Gallina said he has nothing but remorse and empathy, and that he accepts responsibility for what occurred.

Attorney Melanie Tratnik of the State Attorney General’s Office said Gallina’s actions impacted the entire courthouse, and his criminal behavior turned one victim’s dream job into a nightmare.

The woman, who no longer works at the courthouse, talked about the "life-altering" ordeal and her ongoing problems that stemmed from sexual abuse from a powerful person.

RELATED: Ferndale officer charged with attempted child molestation

Over the past three years, she’s suffered anxiety, depression, insomnia, shame, guilt and fear, and has lost close relationships, but the woman said she is proud about coming forward.

Tratnik argued for 27 months of prison time, but Price ruled the sentences for each conviction should run concurrently, rather than consecutively. Gallina was ordered to register as a sex offender and must complete three years of community custody when released from prison.