VANCOUVER — The Attorney General’s Office has filed a petition in Clark County Superior Court seeking to civilly commit a Vancouver-area sex offender and prevent his release into the community. The trial begins today and is expected to continue for three weeks.
Michael Canty, 39, was convicted of indecent liberties with forcible compulsion and first degree burglary with sexual motivation in 2001 in Clark County. Prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) unit are seeking his involuntary commitment to the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.
Canty was originally scheduled for community release in August 2016, before the Attorney General’s Office filed for his civil commitment. Since then, he has been detained at the Special Commitment Center awaiting trial.
Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator law allows the Attorney General’s Office to petition for the civil commitment of violent sex offenders who, because of a mental abnormality and/or personality disorder, are proven likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if released.
The State’s civil commitment petition consists of allegations that have not yet been proven in a court of law. The State of Washington has the burden to prove any and all of its allegations in court.
The lead attorney in this case is Assistant Attorney General Joshua Choate.
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 Attorney General’s SVP Unit was established shortly thereafter.
The SVP unit is responsible for prosecuting sex predator cases for 38 of Washington’s 39 counties (King County being the exception). So far this fiscal year, the unit has tried 7 cases and won 6 civil commitments. One trial involved an offender who was found by the jury to not meet the criteria to be committed as a sexually violent predator.
As of June 2017, 275 sexually violent predators are in the state’s Special Commitment Program.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Interim Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; firstname.lastname@example.org