NEWPORT — A Pend Oreille County Superior Court judge found probable cause to civilly commit a sex offender today after the Washington Attorney General’s Office filed a petition to prevent his release to the community.
Zachery Haugh, 27, was convicted of second-degree rape by forcible compulsion in 2006, indecent liberties with forcible compulsion in 2009, and communication with a minor for immoral purposes with sexual motivation in 2015. Haugh was due to be released from confinement on Jan. 2, 2020 after serving his sentence for his 2015 conviction.
The Attorney General’s Office petitioned to have him committed, alleging that he is mentally ill and sexually dangerous. Today, a judge found probable cause to believe Haugh is a sexually violent predator, a preliminary ruling that allows the state to detain him for further proceedings.
Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator law allows the state 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.
The civil commitment petition consists of allegations that have not yet been proven in a court of law. The State of Washington has the burden to prove the allegations in court.
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). As of December 2019, 213 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.
Brionna Aho, Interim Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; firstname.lastname@example.org