KELSO — A Cowlitz County jury today denied the release of a sexually violent predator after a prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit proved that he remains mentally ill and sexually dangerous.
Joel Reimer, 47, was convicted of two sexually violent offenses in Cowlitz County in 1985: first-degree rape and second-degree assault.
Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) law allows the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) 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 AGO also defends existing civil commitments when they are challenged, as in the present case.
The AGO filed an SVP petition seeking Reimer’s indefinite confinement in June 1991, shortly before his scheduled release from prison for the underlying crimes. In December 1992, a Cowlitz County jury returned a verdict finding that the state had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Reimer met the criteria of an SVP. He was indefinitely confined to the Special Commitment Center, now located on McNeil Island in Pierce County.
In November 2014, a Cowlitz County judge ordered that Reimer receive an unconditional release trial. At trial, the AGO carried the burden of proving Reimer continues to suffer from a mental condition that makes him likely to commit predatory sexual crimes. The trial began Oct. 11 and concluded today with the jury’s finding that the state had met its burden and that Reimer remains a sexually violent predator.
Assistant Attorney General Farshad Talebi prosecuted the case for the state.
“Public safety is a top priority,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “The Attorney General’s Office works hard to protect our communities from sexually violent predators.”
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 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.
As of Aug. 8, 2016, 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