EVERETT — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that a Snohomish County jury has denied release to a sex offender. Prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office’s (AGO) Sexually Violent Predator Unit (SVP) proved that he remains mentally ill and sexually dangerous.
Patrick McGaffee, 46, pled guilty to residential burglary and the sexually violent offense of attempted second degree rape against a 15 year old boy in 1992.
In March 1998, McGaffee was found to be a sexually violent predator and was civilly committed to the state’s Special Commitment Center (SCC) on McNeil Island. McGaffee has been in total confinement at the SCC since the SVP petition was originally filed in 1995.
In 2013, McGaffee was awarded a trial to determine if his condition has improved to the point that he could be released back into the community. A trial that began on June 9 concluded today with a jury’s decision that the state had proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that McGaffee meets the criteria for continued confinement as a sexually violent predator.
Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator law allows the AGO to petition for and defend 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.
In the unconditional release trial, the State of Washington had the burden to prove McGaffee still meets the above criteria for being confined as a sexually violent predator. Yesterday, the Snohomish County jury in the case agreed. Assistant Attorneys General Joshua Studor and Rose McGillis prosecuted the case for the state.
“My office is committed to keeping sexually violent predators off our streets,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “When the evidence suggests an offender remains dangerous, we’ll fight to keep them confined and receiving the treatment they need.”
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 SVP unit is responsible for prosecuting sex predator cases for 38 of Washington’s 39 counties (King County being the exception). In Fiscal Year 2014, the unit tried 14 cases, won 9 civil commitments and secured one recommitment. Three trials ended in hung juries and one trial involved an offender who didn’t meet the criteria to be committed as a sexually violent predator.
As of this month, 293 sexually violent predators are in the state’s Special Commitment Program due to the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office and the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
– 30 –
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.
CONTACT: Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov