After 3-Year Probe, Spokane Paper Alleges Sex Abuse by Mayor

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By: E&P Staff

After three years of investigation, the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., today presented a package of stories that include allegations of sexual misconduct by the city’s mayor, Jim West.

The probe grew out of the paper’s reporting on a sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in 2002. Rumors circulated then that West had sexually molested young boys when he served as a Boy Scout leader (and a sheriff’s deputy) in the late 1970s. Two of his closest friends then, one a sheriff’s deputy and the other a Scout leader, committed suicide after those earlier allegations of sex abuse were raised.

Today, the newspaper revealed that Robert J. Galliher claimed in a court deposition that West molested him in the mid-1970s, when he was a boy. A second man, Michael G. Grant Jr., also accused West of sexual abuse during the same period at a Boy Scout.

Stories by the newspaper in 2003 generated tips about West that staff reporters Bill Morlin and Karen Dorn Steele then spent two years investigating, using public records, court documents, interviews, and forensic evidence.

It led them to conclude, as the paper’s editor, Steven A. Smith, described it, “that West has led a secret life for more than 25 years. Beyond the serious allegations of sexual abuse, West had been using his position in the Legislature to block gay-rights legislation. And he has been trolling the Internet for young lovers while serving as mayor of Spokane, offering gifts and favors.”

West, a Republican legislator who was elected mayor in 2003, defeating a local investigative journalist named Tom Grant, has denied the most serious allegations while acknowledging his Internet activity, Smith wrote. The two men accusing him of molestation have both spent time in prison.

The paper presented a large package online, including excerpts from interviews with the two accusers, a full assessment of West’s career and anti-gay public stance, and a detailed timeline.

An article by Steele opened this way: “In an Internet chat room last New Year?s Eve where he discussed his recent date with an 18-year-old man, Spokane Mayor Jim West criticized the ‘sex Nazis’ who try to regulate private sexual behavior. For years, that?s exactly what West tried to do in Olympia [the state capital[].”

Editor Smith wrote, “This is not a story about sexual orientation. This is a story about alleged sexual abuse of children and misuse of power and authority. Using the trappings of office to lure and groom young sex partners, barely of legal age, is the public’s business whether those potential partners are men or women.”

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