Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


SPOKANE - After nearly a year of gathering evidence and nine months of active investigation, attorneys from Attorney General Rob McKenna’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit today filed a petition in Spokane County Superior Court for the civil commitment of Kevin Coe.

Coe was convicted in 1985 of the first degree rape of a Spokane resident and originally scheduled for release from the Washington State Penitentiary on Sept. 8.

“ Our action in petitioning for Coe's civil commitment today will prevent Coe's release until a court or jury has heard the sexually violent predator case,” McKenna said. “If the office prevails at trial, Coe will not be released back into the community. Instead, he will be held at the State’s Special Commitment Center at McNeil Island in Pierce County until his underlying mental condition has so changed that he is safe to be unconditionally released into the community, or conditionally release to a less-restrictive facility such as a halfway house.”

During its investigation into Coe, the Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator unit gathered and reviewed roughly 67,000 pages of law enforcement, legal, prison, medical and mental health records relating to Coe-- almost 50 times as many documents as are gathered and reviewed in a typical SVP case.

The unit also worked with a psychologist specializing in sexual deviancy who assessed Coe to determine whether he appears to meet the definition of a sexually violent predator.

Upon completion of this investigation, and based in part on the psychological evaluation, the unit believes the evidence shows that Coe meets the criteria for civil commitment as a sexually violent predator.

To be civilly committed as a sexually violent predator, Coe must be proven to meet certain narrow criteria:

  • He must have been charged with or convicted of a “sexually violent offense”
  • He must currently suffer from a mental abnormality or personality disorder
  • That mental abnormality or personality disorder must cause him “serious difficulty” controlling his sexually dangerous behavior and make him “more likely than not” to engage in “predatory” acts of sexual violence.

Today two assistant attorneys general from the Attorney General’s Office Sexually Violent Predator Unit—AAG Todd Bowers and AAG Malcolm Ross—filed several documents in Spokane County Superior Court seeking the indefinite, involuntary civil commitment of Coe, including:

  • The petition for civil commitment
  • Certification of probable cause, including the forensic psychological evaluation
  • A motion asking the court to find probable cause to believe Coe is an SVP and asking the court to issue a warrant for his detention
  • A motion asking the court to seat a probable cause hearing within three days of Coe’s arrest on warrant
  • A motion asking the court to order that Coe be transported to the Spokane County Jail until the probable cause hearing.

Based on the documents the office provided to the court, the court has found probable cause to believe Coe is a sexually violent predator and a warrant has been issued for his detention in the SVP case.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 6.

A copy of the pleading can be downloaded from the AGO Web site.


For more information contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Communications Director, (360) 584-0725


Sexually Violent Predator: Fast Facts

The Attorney General’s SVP Unit
The SVP Unit was established in 1990 following enactment of RCW 71.09 which permits the involuntary civil commitment of sex offenders who, because of a mental abnormality and/or personality disorder, are likely to commit predatory acts of sexual violence if released to the community.

The unit is responsible for prosecuting sex predator cases for 38 of Washington’s 39 counties (King County being the exception).  The expertise of the unit permits it to handle all aspects of sex predator cases, including pre-filing investigations, pre-trial motion practice, trial, post-commitment proceedings and appeals. 

Attorneys appear before both state and federal courts.  The unit also employs two investigators who work with the attorneys and paralegals to identify and locate witnesses and otherwise prepare cases for filing and trial.

What is an SVP?
An SVP is defined primarily by statute and includes the following narrow criteria:

  • Charged with or convicted of a “sexually violent offense”
  • Currently suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder
  • Mental abnormality or personality disorder must cause the person “serious difficulty” controlling his or her sexually dangerous behavior and make him or her “more likely than not” to engage in “predatory” acts of sexual violence.

What qualifies as a “mental abnormality?”
As defined by statute, it must “predispose the person to the commission of criminal sexual acts.”

  • The statute further narrows the scope of eligible offenders by requiring that the predisposition be to committing “predatory acts of violence;” essentially, hands-on felony sex offenses.
  • Only certain types of paraphilias meet the definition of mental abnormality—such as pedophilia, sadism and paraphilia not otherwise specified (rape).

What is “predatory?”
Defined by statute as offenses committed against a:

  • Stranger
  • Person of casual acquaintance with whom no substantial personal relationship exists, such as a victim picked up in a bar or someone known from school by first name only
  • Person with whom the relationship has been established or promoted for the primary purpose of victimization like a pedophile who “grooms” his victims by giving gifts and attention.

Statewide stats:

The SVP Unit has filed 208 SVP cases since 1990.

  • 135 SVPs were committed
  • In 5 cases, a jury did not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender met criteria for civil commitment
  • 22 cases were dismissed
  • 46 are pending trial

The unit currently has 24 pending investigations.

In Spokane County
The SVP unit has filed 12 SVP cases in Spokane County since 1990—including Coe.

  • 8 were committed
  • In one case, a jury did not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the person met criteria for civil commitment
    3 cases are pending trial-- including Coe

The Special Commitment Center

  • Is a secure mental health facility, located on McNeil Island and run by DSHS
  • It is not a prison
  • 244 residents are housed there—170 committed and remainder awaiting trial