Greg Schirato, a former state Department of Fish and Wildlife division leader who was accused of sexually assaulting a former co-worker, was led from a courtroom in handcuffs Wednesday after a jury found him guilty of second-degree rape and first-degree burglary.
The verdict was announced just before 2 p.m., concluding a case that took three weeks. Sentencing is set for 8:30 a.m. March 14.
Schirato was immediately taken into custody because that is required under the law for certain sex offenses, including second-degree rape, deputy prosecuting attorney Megan Winder said.
“Justice prevailed,” Winder said Wednesday. “The investigation by the Olympia Police Department was really stellar; they did a great job.”
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Several jurors declined to speak to a reporter after the verdict. Stephen Rickter of Yelm, however, shared some brief comments, saying he voted to convict based on a combination of the prosecution’s evidence, and called the defense’s evidence “lacking.”
The jury didn’t deliberate for long. The case was theirs about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. They deliberated until 5 p.m. that day, then started again at 9 a.m. Wednesday. During their deliberations, they asked to hear the victim’s 911 call again, Winder said.
Schirato’s friends were disappointed in the result.
Angie Ragan, a former Fish and Wildlife employee and a friend of the defendant, believes the jury convicted an innocent man. She was among several friends who filled the courtroom to hear the verdict. She said she cried after hearing he was found guilty.
“We were all shocked,” she said. “All of Greg’s friends were shocked.”
She believes the trial would have had a different outcome if the jurors “knew the whole story.”
At issue during the case was consent, not a previous relationship that may have taken place between the defendant and victim.
One of the first questions asked of the victim by Schirato’s attorney early in the trial was how many times had she been to the defendant’s house. But the prosecution objected and Judge James Dixon asked the jury to disregard the question.
In the end, the jury believed the narrative of events on Dec. 17-18, 2014, in which a group of Fish and Wildlife employees had gathered at the Olympia restaurant Mercato for a Christmas party. After the dinner party, four people, including Schirato and the victim, headed to The Brotherhood for more drinks, shuffleboard and conversation.
Then the victim went home that night, admittedly too drunk to drive.
After struggling to park her car in her garage and feeding her cats, she said she went to bed and passed out. She said in her semi-conscious 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.
DNA evidence collected from the victim’s bra was determined to be 5.4 quadrillion times more likely to have come from Schirato than from any other member of the U.S. population.
Following the alleged rape, Fish and Wildlife hired a law firm to investigate allegations of sexual harassment within the department, where Schirato was a division leader.