Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


TACOMA — The Attorney General’s Office has filed a petition in Pierce County Superior Court seeking to civilly commit a Pierce County sex offender to prevent his release into the community. 

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.

John Frederick Flynn III, 59, was convicted of second-degree rape with forcible compulsion in 1988, and in 1994 he was convicted of first-degree rape and first-degree burglary. He committed all three crimes in Pierce County.

Late Tuesday, prior to Flynn’s scheduled release from prison for his 1994 offenses, the Attorney General’s Office petitioned to have him committed as a sexually violent predator. A judge found probable cause to detain Flynn pending trial.

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 beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

The lead attorney is Assistant Attorney General Kate Hemann.

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 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 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.

As of Aug. 8, 284 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