Washington works to keep predator behind bars

Washington works to keep predator behind bars »Play Video
WA STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL NEWS RELEASE -- The Washington Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is scheduled to begin opening arguments Wednesday afternoon in the civil commitment trial of a Yakima County sex offender. The AGO will argue that Jonathan Parsons, 38, meets the legal definition of a sexually violent predator and should be civilly committed indefinitely. Parson has three prior convictions.

Washington’s sexually violent predator law allows the state to civilly commit to a secure facility sexually violent predators who, because of a mental abnormality and/or personality disorder, are proven likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined.
If Parsons is found to be a sexually violent predator, he will be held at the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island and subject to an annual review.

“The Attorney General’s Office Sexually Violent Predator Unit helps protect our communities by keeping dangerous offenders confined,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

In 1989, Parsons pled guilty to one count of child molestation in the first degree in Yakima County Juvenile Court for assaulting an 11-year-old boy in Union Gap. He received 30 days in detention and 12 months of community supervision.

In 1994, Parson was convicted of third degree rape after pleading guilty to assaulting a 14-year-old boy. He was sentenced to 18 months.

In January 1998, Parsons was convicted of second degree rape of a child and second degree child molestation for crimes against a 13-year-old boy. He was sentenced to 175 months—roughly 14.5 years.

The trial is scheduled in Courtroom #2 at Yakima County Superior Court before the Honorable Robert E. Lawrence-Berrey. The case is estimated to take two weeks.

In 1990, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a law permitting the involuntary civil commitment of sex offenders after they serve their criminal sentences. The AGO’s SVP Unit was established shortly thereafter.

The AGO SVP Unit is responsible for prosecuting sex predator cases for 38 of Washington’s 39 counties (King County being the exception). In Fiscal Year 2013, the unit tried 19 cases, won 16 civil commitments and secured one recommitment. One trial ended in a hung jury and one offender was found by a jury not to meet criteria to be committed as a sexually violent predator.

As of September 2013, approximately 293 sexually violent predators are civilly committed in Washington state.