Charles Urlacher, civilly committed since 2011, to remain in SCC
TACOMA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office prevailed at trial late Thursday, when a Pierce County jury refused to release sexually violent predator Charles Urlacher from the state’s Special Commitment Center (SCC) on McNeil Island.
Prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit have been fighting since December of last year to prevent Urlacher’s conditional release, arguing that he was a danger to the community.
Urlacher, 63, was convicted of first- and second-degree rape of a child in 2000. He was civilly committed to the SCC in 2011 after a Pierce County jury found him to be a sexually violent predator (SVP).
In December 2015, Urlacher requested a trial to determine whether he should be conditionally released from the SCC to a “less restrictive alternative” in the community. Though Urlacher would still be considered a sexually violent predator under the jurisdiction of the Pierce County Superior Court, had he prevailed, he would have been allowed to live and receive sex offender treatment in a community setting under court-ordered conditions.
The trial began on Oct. 3 and ended Thursday with the jury’s verdict that Urlacher should not be released and must remain in total confinement.
Under Washington’s civil commitment law, prosecutors had to demonstrate that Urlacher’s release plan was either not in his best interest or did not include conditions adequate to protect the public. The jury found that the state had proven both beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assistant Attorneys General Rose McGillis and Fred Wist prosecuted the case for the state.
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 sentence. 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). In Fiscal Year 2016, the unit tried nine cases and won 7 civil commitments. Two trials ended in acquittals, meaning the offenders were found to not meet the criteria to be committed as a sexually violent predator.
As of Oct. 5, 282 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.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov