Convicted rapist Paul Harell had sought unconditional release
COUPVILLE — An Island County jury on Thursday decided not to release a sexually violent predator after prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office proved that he remains both mentally ill and a danger to the community.
Paul Harell, 44, was convicted in 1994 of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape by forcible compulsion in Island County.
The AGO filed a petition seeking Harell’s confinement in 2009, shortly before his release from prison for his 1994 crimes. In September 2011, Harell agreed he was a sexually violent predator (SVP) and stipulated to his civil commitment. He was conditionally released to the Secure Community Transition Facility in Seattle in June of 2014.
In February, Harell was granted a trial to consider his unconditional release, based on his retained expert’s opinion that his condition had changed and that he was no longer mentally ill and sexually dangerous.
At the trial, Assistant Attorneys General Thomas Howe and Charlyn Rees were tasked with proving that Harell continues to suffer from a mental condition that makes him likely to commit predatory sexual crimes. The trial began Oct. 11 and concluded late Thursday, when the jury agreed with prosecutors that Harell should not be released.
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 Attorney General’s SVP was established shortly thereafter.
Washington’s SVP law allows the Attorney General’s Office 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.
The unit is responsible for prosecuting SVP cases for 38 of Washington’s 39 counties (King County being the exception). In Fiscal Year 2016, the unit tried nine cases and won seven 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.
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