EVERETT — A Snohomish County jury ruled late Thursday that convicted multi-victim sex predator, Garth Snively, remains a sexually violent predator and must continue confinement at the Pierce County Secure Community Transition Facility on McNeil Island.
“The attorneys in the AG’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit help keep dangerous offenders such as Garth Snively confined,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “These attorneys keep our communities safe.”
Snively, 63, was convicted in 1993 of two counts of Child Molestation in the First Degree, involving five boys under age 12. He was also convicted of one count of Indecent Liberties, involving his two nephews in Snohomish County. He served time for his crimes from 1994 to 2003. He has since been confined as a sexually violent predator.
In documents filed with the court, the state reported Snively volunteered as a Boy Scout leader, Big Brother and church Sunday school teacher as a means of grooming victims. While Snively has provided various estimates of the number of his victims, at times as high as 100, he currently admits to molesting 37 boys.
Faced with several expert opinions that Snively should no longer be confined, Senior Counsel and SVP Prosecutor Malcolm Ross retained a nationally recognized expert in sexual offender risk assessment, Dr. Amy Phenix, to help make the state’s case. The state argued that Snively manipulated treatment providers into believing his behavior had changed. Snively used the same tactics to convince community and church organizations to grant him access to his victims.
As a result of Thursday’s verdict, Snively may not be released until his condition has so changed that a judge or jury rules he no longer meets the definition of a sexually violent predator.
In 1990, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a law permitting the involuntary civil commitment of sex offenders after they have served their criminal sentences. The Attorney General’s SVP Unit was established shortly thereafter.
The 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 commit predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined.
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 294 sexually violent predators are civilly committed in Washington state.