VANCOUVER — Prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit are in Clark County Superior Court this week, working to prevent the release of a convicted sex offender. The trial is expected to continue two and a half weeks.
Matthew Hopkins, 32, has been convicted of multiple sex offenses against children, dating back to 2001. In the interest of public safety, prosecutors in the Sexually Violent Predator Unit (SVP) are seeking his involuntary commitment to the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.
Hopkins was originally scheduled for community release in November 2013, 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 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 in court.
Due to limited court capacity, the trial venue was changed from Skamania County to Clark County.
The lead attorneys in this case are Assistant Attorneys General Mary Robnett and Elise Deschenes.
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).
As of September 2017, the state’s Special Commitment Center housed 227 sexually violent predators.
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. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Interim Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; firstname.lastname@example.org