VANCOUVER — Prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit are in Clark County Superior Court this week, fighting to prevent a dangerous sex offender from being conditionally released into the community. The trial is expected to continue for two weeks.
Timothy McMahon, 56, has been convicted of multiple sex offenses against children, dating back to 1985. In the interest of public safety, the AGO’s Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) unit is seeking to prevent his conditional release to the community.
McMahon originally was scheduled for community release in February 2017, 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 (SVP) law allows the state 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 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 the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt in court.
The lead attorneys in this case are Assistant Attorneys General Mary Robnett and Rose McGillis.
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 eight cases and won seven 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 July 2017, 230 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