SPOKANE — At a trial beginning today, a prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) Unit will allege that a Spokane inmate is a sexually violent predator who poses a danger to the community and should remain confined.
Scott Halvorson, 54, has been convicted of sexually violent crimes against young children, as well as the sexual assault of an adult. In addition to those convictions, he has admitted to a long history of sexually abusing child relatives. In the interest of public safety, SVP prosecutors are seeking his involuntary commitment to the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.
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 Attorney General’s Office works hard to protect our communities from sexually violent predators,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Halvorson was originally scheduled for community release in April 2012, before the AGO filed for his civil commitment. Since then, he has been detained at the Special Commitment Center awaiting trial.
The trial begins today in Spokane County Superior Court, and is expected to continue into next week.
The state’s civil commitment petition consists of allegations that have not yet been proven in a court of law. Washington state has the burden to prove any and all of its 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 serve their criminal sentences. The AGO’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). In Fiscal Year 2014, the unit tried 14 cases, won 9 civil commitments and secured one recommitment. Three trials ended in hung juries and one trial involved an offender who didn’t meet the criteria to be committed as a sexually violent predator.
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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.
Alison Dempsey-Hall, Acting Communications Director, (206) 442-4482, firstname.lastname@example.org