Offender’s stipulation precludes lengthy trial
EPHRATA — Prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit today obtained a convicted sex offender’s agreement to be civilly committed as a sexually violent predator, shortly before the parties were to begin selecting a jury in Grant County in a trial seeking to commit him involuntarily.
Rickey Powell, 31, has been convicted of two counts of first-degree rape of a child when he was a juvenile, and first-degree child molestation as an adult. In the interest of public safety, prosecutors had been seeking his involuntary civil commitment to the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. Powell’s agreement to be civilly committed avoids a potentially lengthy trial that was to begin today in Grant County Superior Court.
Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) 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.
“My office is dedicated to protecting our communities from sexually violent predators,” Ferguson said. “When the evidence shows an offender is still a danger, my team will work to ensure that person remains confined and receiving the treatment they need.”
Powell was originally scheduled for community release in February 2014, before the Attorney General’s Office filed for his civil commitment. Since then, he has been detained at the Special Commitment Center awaiting trial.
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.
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 2015, the unit tried 15 cases and won 10 civil commitments. Two trials ended in hung juries (meaning the offender remains detained pending a new trial), and three trials involved an offender who was found by the jury to not meet the criteria to be committed as a sexually violent predator.
As of Feb. 26, 2016, 286 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