FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 02, 2014
OLYMPIA—The Washington Attorney General’s Office started trial today in Spokane County Superior Court seeking to civilly commit a Spokane area sex offender and prevent his release into the community.
Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) law allows the state 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.
Robert Aronson was convicted of two sexually violent offenses in 1994 and the Attorney General’s Office petitioned to have him committed as a sexually violent predator prior to his release from prison. In its civil commitment petition, the AGO SVP Unit alleges Aronson suffers from at least one mental abnormality and/or personality disorder that causes him to have serious difficulty in controlling his dangerous behavior. SVP attorneys allege this makes him likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence unless confined to a secure facility.
At trial a jury will decide whether or not Aronson meets the SVP criteria. If the jury determines he is a sexually violent predator, Aronson will be confined at the Special Commitment Center.
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 in court.
In 1990, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a law permitting the involuntary civil commitment of sex offenders after they have served their criminal sentences. The Attorney General’s SVP Unit was established shortly thereafter.
The AGO SVP unit is responsible for prosecuting sex predator cases for 38 of Washington’s 39 counties (King County being the exception). “The Attorney General’s Office works hard to prevent the release of dangerous sexually violent offenders into our communities,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
As of March 2014, 296 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. 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.
Contacts: Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725
Alison Dempsey-Hall, Dep. Communications Director, (206) 641-1335