By Rolf Boone / The Olympian
Greg Schirato, the former state Department of Fish and Wildlife manager who was convicted of second-degree rape of a co-worker, was sentenced to 125 months to life in prison by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Jim Dixon on Wednesday.
Dixon also sentenced Schirato to 34 months in prison for a first-degree burglary conviction. Those sentences will run concurrently.
A sentence of 125 months to life means he will serve at least 10 years and then the sentencing review board will determine whether he is eligible for release.
A jury found Schirato guilty in January of breaking into the woman’s home and raping her following a Fish and Wildlife Christmas dinner party at the downtown Olympia restaurant Mercato in December 2014. After the dinner, Schirato, the victim, and two others, continued their party at The Brotherhood, a downtown bar. The incident happened later that night as the victim slept in her Olympia home.
Wednesday’s sentencing concludes a case that took more than three years and was continued multiple times, Judge Dixon told a packed courtroom.
Dixon said he had received many letters of support about Schirato from family, friends and co-workers.
He also acknowledged his conduct in the courtroom — that he was respectful, polite and wore a tie to court during his appearances.
“Mr. Schirato presents himself as a person who has a lot of support, and he knows on certain occasions how to conduct himself in society,” said Dixon in leading up to his decision.
“But I have an obligation to protect our community,” he said. “I believe he (Schirato) is a predator. I believe the community needs to be protected from Mr. Schirato. I believe our community has the right to be heard, the victim to be heard, law enforcement to be heard, the state Department of Corrections to be heard, and they have been waiting for more than three years for that right to be heard.”
After Dixon announced the sentencing, the victim, who testified during the sentencing that she became so depressed as the case dragged on that she attempted to take her own life, burst into tears and was nearly inconsolable.
The sentencing hearing took about an hour, which began with testimony from the state’s attorney Megan Winder, Olympia Police Officer Corey Johnson, who worked as a detective during the rape and burglary investigation, as well as Schirato’s attorney, Richard Woodrow.
Winder and Johnson recommended the high end of the standard sentencing range — “it was a true breach of everything good, of everything we expect in society,” Winder said — while Woodrow countered at 78 months, the lower end of the range.
Woodrow said he gotten to know Schirato during the course of the trial, describing him as intelligent, funny, a caring man who has a lot of friends and family and two sons who love him.
“He is the kind of person who is not going to do well in prison,” he said.
But the victim called Schirato a “sick and perverted monster.”
“Before today, I used to be so happy,” she said. “He violated my trust, friendship, my body and the security of my home.”
She said she’s been afraid to sleep and cries herself to sleep. She eventually had to sell that home, she said.
At work, her co-workers took sides and it became extremely hostile.
“I felt the judgment, the shaming and no one protected me there,” she said. “I had to quit my job, a job I once loved.”
She added that she had no support network and had withdrawn from life.
“I even attempted to take my own life,” she said.
Winder, Johnson, Woodrow and the victim testified for about 30 minutes. Then Dixon wanted some time to reflect on the case.
“A lot has been said about this case,” he said.
“The state has said a lot, the defense has said a lot, the community weighed in, the press certainly had a lot to say. “But the court has not had a lot to say. Now, I have a lot to say, so indulge me.”
Dixon expressed frustration with how long the case was pending before the court and that it was continued more than 10 times.
“Justice delayed is not justice served,” he said.
He also wanted to explain some rulings that were made before and during the course of the trial that perhaps those in community had trouble wrapping their heads around.
Officer Johnson asked Dixon to consider five other Schirato victims, including a babysitter who claims she was groped by him, in his sentencing, but Dixon had ruled against the state on that matter prior to trial.
He said those “prior acts lacked a common signature, meaning they were dissimilar in nature.”
Dixon also ruled against the defense when they wanted to include that the victim and Schirato had a previous relationship.
He reminded the courtroom that at issue was consent and the unlawful entry into her home.
“She was not on trial,” Dixon said about the victim. “I’ve been waiting a long time to say that.”