OLYMPIA…The Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit recently won two civil commitment cases preventing two of the state’s most sexually violent predators from returning to society.
"The public needs to know that our office is working overtime to keep violent sex offenders off the streets and away from their children," said Attorney General Rob McKenna. "Even though these two dangerous offenders have served their sentences, they remain highly likely to reoffend if released. Civil commitment will keep both of them away from society until their deviant psychological urges have been treated. They will not be released until it's proven that they can be safe in the community."
Late on Thursday, Feb. 2, a unanimous jury in Snohomish County Superior Court found Benjamin Benton, 20, met the definition of a sexually violent predator and ordered civil commitment to a secure facility. Benton was convicted of one count of first degree rape of a child in 1999 and one count of second degree rape of a child in 2001.
On Monday, Feb. 6, another unanimous jury in Clallam County Superior Court ruled that John L. Strand, 45, was a sexually violent predator, likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined to a secure facility. Strand was convicted of first degree child molestation and resisting arrest in December 1992. He had several other sexual offenses in Utah and Clallam County and had been convicted of roughly 40 nonsexual offenses between 1977 and 1992. Strand was scheduled to be released on Feb. 9.
Both individuals will be held indefinitely in total confinement at the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. They may not be released either until their condition has so changed that they no longer meet the definition of a sexually violent predator, or until the court orders their conditional release to a less restrictive alternative placement.
The Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit petitioned to have 24 offenders civilly committed in 2005, 25 percent more than in 2004. Of those, 19 were deemed eligible for civil commitment, the highest one-year total ever.
The Attorney General's Sexually Violent Predator Unit focuses on the most dangerous sex offenders in the system. The 24 offenders the Attorney General’s Office sought to civilly commit in 2005 sexually assaulted a total of 212 victims with an average age of 12. The offenders were convicted of a total of 85 sex offenses, including 60 sexually violent offenses. Offenders ranged in age from 12 to 63 years old and they came from 11 Washington counties, eight other states and several foreign countries.
Based on the unit’s recommendations, McKenna requested a package of sex offender legislation that is moving through the Legislature with bipartisan support.
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725