Gregory Allen Schirato, a former longtime Fish and Wildlife employee who is accused of sexually assaulting a coworker, took the stand in his defense in Thurston County Superior Court Monday and Tuesday.
The case was placed in the hands of the jury Tuesday afternoon after attorneys wrapped up closing arguments.
Schirato is accused of second-degree rape and first-degree burglary in connection with the sexual assault of a co-worker in her home on Dec. 17-18, 2014, following a Fish and Wildlife Christmas party at the Olympia restaurant Mercato and a second gathering at The Brotherhood.
One of the keys to this trial is that an element of second-degree rape, according to state law, is that the victim “is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated.”
The victim, who no longer works for Fish and Wildlife, testified earlier in the trial that she drove home drunk that night, and passed out when she went to bed. She said in her semi-conscious, dream-like state, she recalled hands caressing her back, unclasping her bra and touching her body. She said she thought that perhaps her boyfriend had joined her. She said she later woke up and discovered he wasn’t there, then found that the glass in a basement door had been broken. That’s when she called 911.
Schirato, 55, told the jury he is married, has two sons and worked for Fish and Wildlife for about 30 years.
He said he and his wife were friendly with the victim for about two years. They had gone on vacations together, gone water skiing, hosted barbecues at their house, and attended Seattle Sounder soccer games and other social occasions.
He said he had seen her intoxicated before and that she liked to drink wine, but also cocktails. The victim had testified that she doesn’t typically drink hard alcohol, although she drank maple-flavored Crown Royal and was drunk that night.
Schirato testified that she did not seem intoxicated at The Brotherhood.
“She wasn’t slurring her speech and her conversations were normal,” he said, adding that she didn’t appear to have balance issues.
Another element of the case is that DNA was found on the victim’s bra that was likely to be Schirato’s. Schirato said he and the victim had played shuffleboard at The Brotherhood and they touched each other to get out of each other’s way to play the game. Schirato recalled touching her on her shoulder and her bra strap at least twice.
However, the victim testified that she had changed bras before she went to bed.
Schirato also was asked if he broke into the victim’s house that night — “No, I did not” — and whether he had sexually assaulted the woman —“Absolutely not.”
Under cross examination, deputy prosecuting attorney Megan Winder pointed out inconsistencies in Schirato’s previous statements to police. Previously, he said he, the victim and another person had left The Brotherhood together, but later acknowledged that the victim had left first, and he had walked another person in their party to her car before he drove home to Shelton.
Broken glass was later found on Schirato’s suit, possibly from the broken glass in the basement door of the victim’s house. He testified that the summer before the incident, he and his wife had attended a friend’s wedding and a tray of glasses had broken near them.
However, Winder pointed out the wedding was actually three years prior to the incident.
Schirato acknowledged that it was a summer wedding, but was unsure of the date.
Schirato’s attorney, Richard Woodrow, zeroed in on whether the victim was so drunk that she could not consent. He said the only person to testify that she was intoxicated was the victim and that no other witness at the Brotherhood described her that way.
“They (the state) did not prove she was intoxicated but for her own words,” Woodrow said.
He said the fact that she remembered the details of that night — including washing her hands, going to bed, passing out, being touched, feeling her garments being removed and saw a light come on.
“If you do all that, you are not intoxicated,” he said.
Woodrow also argued that Schirato’s DNA wasn’t found on the victim’s body or in her house.
“There’s no other proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.
He asked them to acquit the defendant.
“Use your common sense,” Woodrow told the jury. “It makes no sense.”
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Winder also attacked the inconceivable portions of the defense’s case.
Schirato had testified that glass may have wound up on his suit after glass had broken near him while he and his son watched a football game. Winder asked the jury: Who wears a suit to a sports bar?
She also defended the victim’s testimony about being drunk. What reason does she have to lie? Winder asked the jury again.
Winder asked the jury to consider all the evidence, including a bra clasp with a mix of Schirato and the victim’s DNA.
While Woodrow reminded the jury that the victim testified that she did have sexual dreams, Winder said the victim knows the difference between dreams and reality. And in her dreams, her clothes were never removed, Winder said.
“Find him guilty,” she said.