Teen sent to sex offender counseling

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A Seattle teen-ager is headed for an East Coast treatment facility for young sex offenders under an agreement that could enable him to avoid being labeled the state’s youngest "sexually violent predator."

King County prosecutors have agreed to stop trying to have the 16-year-old locked up under the state’s civil commitment program for sex offenders if he makes it through an intensive treatment program.

His treatment regimen could last as long as three years.

His attorney, Susan Craighead, said she remains dismayed that prosecutors filed a sex-predator petition against a child.

"But I think this is a fair resolution that will give this child very sophisticated counseling — and a chance to live in freedom," she said.

Deputy Prosecutor David Hackett said it was the first time his office had agreed to dismiss a petition on condition that the defendant complete treatment — noting the deal was made only because of the boy’s age.

"I feel like we’ve given him the opportunity to succeed, and now it’s up to him," Hackett said.

On Friday, King County Superior Court Judge Linda Lau told the boy, whose name is withheld because of his age, that if he failed to complete treatment, he would face trial and risk being locked up indefinitely.

Under the 1990 state law, sex predators found by a civil jury to present a risk to society after serving their sentences are sent to the state’s Special Commitment Center for treatment. Just six of the more than 130 defendants sent to the center have been released.

The boy, wearing a blue jail uniform and ankle chains, answered most of the judge’s questions with sullen monosyllables.

"I know this would be a difficult decision to make, even for an adult," Lau said.

The boy’s mother, who lost custody of him when he was 11, wiped away tears and said she worried about being able to visit him out of state.

Friday’s agreement was not all the parties had hoped for.

Defense lawyers and prosecutors were unable to persuade the state Department of Social and Health Services to provide what they say he will need on release: a place to live for a year.

The boy has learning disabilities, no stable family and no idea how to fend for himself. His lawyers say he will need not only housing, but also help learning how to get a job, pay bills, even drive.

DSHS has been responsible for the boy since 1996, but agency attorney Steve Hassett said the boy will become ineligible for such assistance when he turns 18.

The state will give the boy three months of housing as part of his parole, Hassett said. DSHS could promise only "reasonable efforts" to do more with its strained budget, he said.

The boy took the deal.

"It was not worth it for the child to undertake any more legal risks," Craighead said.

The boy pleaded guilty last year to unlawful imprisonment for pinning down a girl in an Auburn group home and trying to have sex with her. He finished an eight-month sentence in March but has remained behind bars.

He has been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior toward numerous classmates and relatives, and has been kicked out of two schools for alleged misconduct toward girls.

Prosecutors say his sexually aggressive behavior makes him dangerous.

Defense attorneys agree he needs treatment, but have fought efforts to classify him as a repeat sex offender.

Craighead and co-counsel K. C. Williamson, both of the Defender Association in Seattle, are considering raising money to help the boy on their own.

Churches, political organizations and "every attorney who has met him" would likely be willing to help make sure the boy has a stable place to live when he’s released, Craighead said.

"We feel that this community can come up with the resolution that this child needs, even if the state doesn’t believe it can."

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Boeing 787's in various stages of assembly at Boeing's Everett Plant on April 29, 2017 in Everett. (The Boeing Co.)
Boeing workers signal support for strike if contract talks fail

The union is calling for a 40% raise for workers over the next three years.

A wall diagram shows the “journey of the ballot” at the new Elections Center on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County primary election ballots shipped to registered voters

This year’s primary election will feature races in every corner of the county. Turn in a ballot by Aug. 6 to ensure your vote is counted.

A skeletonized cranium found at Scriber Lake Park in Lynnwood, WA on March 24, 2024. The remains are likely a black male estimated to be over 25 years of age and unknown height and weight. He is estimated to have been deceased at least one year. (Provided by Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office)
Authorities seek help identifying partial skull found in Lynnwood park

A homeless man discovered the skull at Scriber Lake Park. Forensic scientists hope to connect the remains to a missing person.

Guests enjoy the sunset and wind Friday afternoon at Cama Beach Historical State Park on Camano Island on October 25, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
State commission weighs permanent closure of Cama Beach cabins

The Washington State Parks Commission said the park’s native history, sea level rise and septic issues will figure in its decision.

Animal Chaplain Shel Graves has her dog Lily pose for a photo in her home office on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is your dog or cat grieving? There’s an animal chaplain for that

Chaplains offer spiritual care for beings of all species: “Absolutely, animals do feel grief and loss.”

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the Cascade Range and Olympic Mountains on Wednesday. (Provided by the National Weather Service)
Red flag warning issued for eastern Snohomish County through Wednesday

The National Weather Service says critical fire conditions are either imminent or occurring now.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.