OLYMPIA—The Attorney General’s Office will make opening statements today in a trial to determine whether a Skagit County sex predator should remain confined at Washington’s Special Commitment Center.
Gregory Coley, 34, has been convicted of at least one sexually violent offense and numerous other offenses. Upon his release from the Clallam Bay Corrections Center in 2001, the Attorney General’s Office filed a civil commitment petition seeking to confine Coley to the Special Commitment Center for sexually violent predators. Coley stipulated— or agreed— he was a sexually violent predator and the court entered an order of commitment in 2002.
As allowed under the law, Coley is now asking the court for unconditional release into the community.
Under Washington’s civil commitment law, the Attorney General’s Office must demonstrate Coley suffers from specific mental abnormalities and/or personality disorders that cause him to have serious difficulty in controlling his dangerous behavior and make him likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence unless confined to a secure facility.
The trial is expected to continue into next week.
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.
“These laws were passed to help protect communities from violent offenders,” Ferguson said. “The Attorney General’s Office Sexually Violent Predator unit works hard on these cases to ensure dangerous offenders are 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 October 2013, approximately 301 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. 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.
• Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725
• Alison Dempsey-Hall, Deputy Communications Director, (206) 641-1335