OLYMPIA—Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis has ruled that a Clark County sex offender is a sexually violent predator and should not be released into the community.
Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) law allows the state Attorney General’s Office (AGO) 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.
“Due to the hard work of my legal team from the AGO Sexually Violent Predator Unit, Mr. Hatfield will not be released into the community,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson
The state alleged that Richard Hatfield, 63, (pictured left-photo courtesy of Washington Dept. of Corrections) had committed two prior offenses that qualified him to be committed under the SVP law. In 1982, Hatfield was convicted in California of Attempted Lewd and Lascivious Conduct with a Minor under 14. In 1998, Hatfield was convicted of Child Molestation in the First Degree in Clark County.
Hatfield was scheduled to be released from prison in February 2012. However, because the state filed an SVP civil commitment petition against him, he was confined at the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island pending trial.
In its civil commitment petition, the AGO SVP Unit alleged Hatfield suffers from both a mental abnormality that causes him to have serious difficulty in controlling his dangerous behavior. SVP attorneys further alleged that since the petition was filed in 2012, Hatfield’s mental state has significantly deteriorated and he is unable to control his sexually violent behavior.
Hatfield will now be held at the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island and subject to an annual review.
Trial started on April 7, 2014. AAG Jeremy Bartels was the lead attorney on the case.
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 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 March 2014, 296 sexually violent predators were 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, Dep. Communications Director, (206) 641-1335