Friday, December 1, 2006
Convicted rapist pleads not guilty
A convicted rapist pleaded not guilty Thursday to killing a Seattle woman in 2004, less than a year after he was released from prison.
Curtis Thompson initially refused to leave the King County Jail for his hearing but finally did so under the threat of having jail officers forcibly drag him into the courtroom. He declined to answer any questions or sign paperwork, though he made several demands that the Superior Court judge denied.
Thompson said he wanted to act as his own lawyer, as co-counsel with his current lawyer, John Hicks. He said he wanted all files the Seattle Police Department has kept on him for the past 25 years, and he suggested that he was put under some sort of surveillance when he was freed from prison in 2003.
Though two psychologists have found Thompson mentally fit to stand trial, Hicks said he still has concerns about the man's mental state.
Thompson is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Deborah Byars, a mother of two, in her Ravenna-area apartment on Aug. 23, 2004.
He is also charged with attacking two other women hours later at a University District apartment complex, robbing one and forcing the other to partially undress, and a separate allegation that he broke into an Eastlake woman's apartment and raped her.
In 2003, King County prosecutors sought to have him locked away indefinitely at a treatment center for violent sex offenders, but his family and others said he had embraced the Jehovah's Witness faith and had turned his life around, and he was released.
Released rapist faces murder charge
Seattle Post Intelligencer - 1 hour ago
... indefinitely at a treatment center for violent sex offenders, but his family and others helped portray him as a man who'd embraced the Jehovah's Witness faith ...
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Released rapist faces murder charge
Man already awaiting trial on 14 previous counts
By TRACY JOHNSON
Curtis Thompson walked free when a King County jury decided he wasn't a sexually violent predator, but he was charged with attacking three Seattle women less than a year later.
Now prosecutors say Thompson's alleged August 2004 crime spree involved an even more violent offense: first-degree murder.
The 47-year-old convicted rapist was charged Monday with stabbing to death Deborah Byars on Aug. 23, 2004, in her Ravenna-area apartment.
Thompson is accused of killing the 45-year-old woman mere hours before prosecutors say he attacked two women at a University District apartment complex, robbing one and forcing the other to partially undress.
Thompson -- the only person a Washington jury has declined to lock away as a sexually violent predator after a civil-commitment trial -- will be arraigned on the latest charge Aug. 30.
He remains in King County Jail, where prosecutors have asked that his $5 million bail be doubled.
Thompson is still awaiting trial on the earlier charges -- 14 in all -- including the alleged U-District attack and allegations that he broke into a woman's Eastlake apartment, raped her and tried to destroy the evidence with bleach.
Prosecutors were initially waiting to file the murder charge until Thompson was tried for the other crimes so that the ordeal wouldn't be so drawn out for the victims, Deputy Prosecutor Scott O'Toole said Monday.
But his trial was delayed late last year, when concerns arose about Thompson's mental competency, and again this year, when he fired his attorneys.
O'Toole said Byars' family "has been waiting for this for a while" and noted that Wednesday marks the second anniversary of the woman's death.
Earlier this month, a state psychologist found that Thompson -- though slightly paranoid and "likely to be very challenging to have as a client" -- appeared competent to stand trial. A hearing is set for next week.
His attorney in the earlier charges could not be reached for comment.
A friend who was worried after several phone calls went unanswered found Byars, also known as Deborah McAfee, dead on Aug. 26, 2004. She'd been stabbed three times in the back of the neck and once under her arm, possibly with a screwdriver.
An acquaintance last saw her at 8:30 or 9 a.m. three days earlier.
Police say DNA found under her fingernails matched Thompson's.
Byars' killer had also covered her head with a pillow, something police say Thompson has done in his other crimes.
In court papers, O'Toole called Thompson "an extreme risk" to the community. Thompson has admitted he began committing crimes at the age of 10, when he sexually assaulted several relatives, and he once acknowledged a fear that he might kill someone, according to court documents.
He also showed little remorse when telling a prison psychologist a few years ago that he'd stabbed a young man, leaving him paralyzed, O'Toole wrote.
Prosecutors say Thompson refused to undergo sex offender treatment while in prison.
He was convicted in 1985 of breaking into the homes of women, raping four of them and trying to rape a fifth. At the time, he admitted that he'd committed as many as 200 burglaries and seven rapes.
In 2003, King County prosecutors sought to have him locked away indefinitely at a treatment center for violent sex offenders, but his family and “others” helped portray him as a man who'd embraced the Jehovah's Witness faith and turned his life around.
Jurors concluded he didn't fit the legal definition of a sexually violent predator who, because of a mental abnormality or personality disorder, was highly likely to reoffend. He was released.
Several jurors later said they were devastated to learn that Thompson was accused of new crimes.
P-I reporter Tracy Johnson can be reached at 206-467-5942 or email@example.com.
Flyer that was circulated in the Seattle Area when Brother Thompson was first released from prison due to his brothers and sisters testifying as character witnesses in his behalf. It is of interest that Jehovah’s Witnesses appear to have a pattern of testifying as character witnesses on behalf of rapists and child molesters. Note the following link to previous testimony in this regard.
Thompson Linked To Second Sexual Assault
September 1, 2004
By Kevin Reece
SEATTLE - A convicted sex predator arrested for allegedly attacking two women in Seattle 's University District has been linked to another sex attack.
Investigators say they now have evidence that Curtis Thompson raped a woman in Seattle 's Eastlake neighborhood just a few days before the U-District attack.
Prosecutors argued that this guy should never be let out of jail; that after four brutal rapes and 18 years in prison, Thompson was a continued threat and couldn't be rehabilitated.
In court documents released Wednesday, prosecutors say fingerprints prove that Curtis Thompson brutally raped a woman again.
On Aug. 23, KOMO 4 News showed surveillance video from a University District apartment building where police say Curtis Thompson attacked two women, beat up an older man, made one woman take off her blouse, and threatened to kill them all.
911 calls got police there quickly. They tackled Thompson as he left. He's been in jail ever since.
But six days before that happened, someone broke into an apartment on Minor Avenue East in Seattle at 2 o'clock in the morning. There, a 29-year-old woman was brutally raped for up to two hours.
At one point, police say she hit the attacker with a lamp, but he grabbed it away from her and tied her up.
He finally left taking her car, police say.
Now, police say fingerprints on an open window and that lamp positively match the fingerprints of Curtis Thompson.
This has been a frustrating case for prosecutors. They begged a jury to agree that Thompson should be committed indefinitely in prison as a sexual predator. But that jury, in the first of its kind decision, decided to set him free.
Now within a year of that release, he's charged in two brutal attacks.
This time, however, if convicted, he'll get life in prison and never have a chance to attack again.
Earlier KOMO 4 News story on Eastlake Rape -- www.komonews.com .
Saturday, August 28, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Source: Sex offender's print found at rape scene
By Jessica Blanchard
Seattle Times staff reporter
A fingerprint found at the scene of a recent rape in Seattle 's Eastlake neighborhood belongs to a registered sex offender, a source close to the investigation said yesterday.
Police say they're also interested in looking at the Level 3 sex offender, Curtis S. Thompson, 45, in connection with the stabbing death this week of a disabled woman in her apartment in the city's Bryant neighborhood.
Police would not confirm whether Thompson is a suspect in either case, and no arrests have been reported.
"He's someone we'd be interested in," said Seattle police spokesman Scott Moss. "But he's not a suspect."
Thompson, who served more than 17 years in prison for a series of rapes and an attempted rape in 1985, was arrested Monday night in the University District, accused of forcing his way into an apartment building and assaulting two women. He has been charged with 11 felonies in that case and is being held in King County Jail in lieu of $5 million bail.
In the 1985 cases, all in King County , Thompson broke into his victims' homes in the middle of the night and covered their faces while he raped them, according to court documents. In three of them, he threatened the women with a gun or knife, tied them up and demanded drugs and money. In the final rape, Thompson smothered and choked his victim and cut her with a knife.
After being arrested in 1985, Thompson told police his behavior was "out of control" and that he was "afraid that he might kill his next victim," according to court documents.
In the Eastlake rape Aug. 17, police say a man broke into a woman's house late at night and raped her. The woman later told police she was unable to get a good look at her attacker because he had covered her face during the rape.
When she resisted at one point, hitting him with a lamp, her attacker beat her and tied her up with a belt, police said. He then stole her car, which has not been found.
Thompson served his time for the 1985 crimes. Shortly before he was scheduled to be released, prosecutors sought to have him civilly committed to a secure treatment center for sexual offenders on McNeil Island in Pierce County . Prosecutors said Thompson had a history of sexual sadism dating to his adolescence, still harbored anger toward women and was likely to re-offend.
But Thompson's attorneys argued that he had been a model prisoner and had developed good relationships with several women who worked for the Department of Corrections during the years he was incarcerated.
The jury sided with Thompson, and in October 2003 he was released from prison and began living with his mother in the Bryant neighborhood.
Thompson recently registered at a new address, in the University District, in the 4700 block of Roosevelt Way Northeast , according to the King County Sheriff's Office.
Thompson's mother's home is near the apartment complex where 45-year-old Deborah S. McAfee was found stabbed to death Thursday. Police said she was last seen alive Sunday.
Police also are looking at Thompson in connection with that killing.
"There's no evidence to suggest he's a possible link at this point," Moss said. "But we always look at crime trends in a certain area ... and being that he lives in close proximity, it'll be certainly something we'll explore."
Police are not looking at Thompson in connection with last week's rape north of Green Lake . He was under arrest at the time, Moss said.
Jessica Blanchard: 206-464-3896 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thompson investigated for more rapes
05:22 PM PDT on Friday, August 27, 2004
By LINDA BYRON / KING 5 News
SEATTLE - A violent sex offender was arrested Monday night for assaulting two women in Seattle 's University District. But now, Curtis Thompson is also the prime suspect in a rape that terrorized the Eastlake neighborhood just 10 days ago.
When a 30-year-old woman was raped inside her Eastlake apartment on August 17 and held for 2 hours by her attacker, police immediately thought of Curtis Thompson.
The convicted serial rapist and Level 3 sex offender wasn't living far away and there were similarities between this case and rapes Thompson had committed back in the 1980s.
Now KING 5 News has learned fingerprints at the scene have come back from the lab and they match Thompson's.
News that police may have solved the case and the suspect is already in jail comes as comforting news to area residents.
"We're glad they found him if indeed it is the right person," said Eastlake resident Nan Woodruff.
Thompson was released from prison just last October, after serving more than 16 years for rape. He was arrested again earlier this week for allegedly attacking two women in a University District apartment building.
A surveillance video shows Thompson following the women into the building.
Thompson is charged with 11 felonies for the attacks - crimes that could send him away for life.
Meantime, police are still investigating a homicide in the Viewridge neighborhood, not far from Thompson's mother's home where he lived for a time.
The woman's body was discovered Thursday by a friend who'd become concerned because the victim had not answered the phone since Sunday.
Detectives are looking into whether Thompson could be a person of interest.
"We haven't ruled that out, but there's nothing about this scene that particularly identifies any individual, including him," said Capt. Tag Gleason, Seattle Police Dept.
But there's more. Sources close to the police investigation told KING 5 that Thompson is also being investigated for two additional rapes.
He is behind bars at the King County Jail being held on $5 million bail.
Prosecutors tried to have Thompson committed indefinitely after he had served his lengthy prison term, but a jury found him not to be a sexually violent predator and he was released last October.
Disabled woman found dead in Seattle apartment complex
09:19 AM PDT on Friday, August 27, 2004
The victim lived at a home for the disabled.
SEATTLE - Police are investigating the suspicious death of a woman in a home for the disabled in the Sandpoint area of Seattle , next to the Ronald McDonald House.
Police say a woman is dead and notorious serial rapist Curtis S. Thompson is now the focus of the investigation.
Thompson was arrested last Tuesday. The woman was last seen alive last Sunday.
A friend checked on the disabled woman, who is believed to be in her late 30s or early 40s, after she had not heard from her for several days, and found her dead with severe signs of trauma Thursday afternoon.
Sources told KING 5 that detectives believe Curtis Thompson could be tied to the case.
Convicted of raping four women in the 1980s, Thompson served 16 years in prison and was out last year. But he was arrested again last Tuesday after allegedly assaulting two women in an elevator in the University District.
The home where the woman was found dead Thursday is just blocks away from Thompson's mother's house. That house borders the Burke-Gilman Trail.
Sources close to the investigation say the M.O. here is similar to Thompson's.
Neighbors say the victim was disabled and depended on a wheelchair to get around.
The victim's name has not yet been released.
Thompson is being held on $5 million bail for investigation of robbery, assault, kidnapping and disarming a police officer.
$5 Million Bail For Curtis Thompson
August 25, 2004
By Tracy Vedder
SEATTLE - A Judge set an extraordinarily high $5 million bail for convicted rapist Curtis Thompson.
Police and prosecutors say Thompson attacked again Monday night in Seattle 's University District.
The judge wouldn't let television cameras videotape Curtis Thompson's face when he walked into the courtroom, but the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Thompson was shackled, and an ultra high security inmate.
His face was emotionless. And the extra King County Jail staff on duty in the jail's courtroom was clearly on high alert.
That's part of the reason Deputy Prosecutor Scott O'Toole asked for an extraordinary $5 million bail: "He presents an extreme danger to society and an extreme danger - risk of flight."
Two nights ago, a surveillance videotape captured Thompson following two young women into a locked apartment building in the U-District. Police say he assaulted them, punched another tenant, and forced one woman to take her blouse off.
In the tape you can see the woman running outside to get away, and police officers there to arrest Thompson. It took at least five to hold him down.
"Because now he's got little to lose," describes Seattle Police Captain Neil Low of the action that night. "He's likely to go back as a 'three-strike' offender, so for him, getting away is everything and the violence level reflected that."
But Thompson's violent history doesn't begin on the videotape. Eighteen years ago, he was convicted of four rapes and another attempted rape.
"Extraordinarily violent," describes O'Toole, "involving the use of weapons, foreign objects to sexually assault a host of different women."
Captain Low's officers kept tabs on Thompson for the past 11 months. Thompson is a level three sex offender, who prosecutors wanted to keep behind bars as a sexual predator, but a jury decided otherwise.
In the past several months, Thompson moved several times -- always closer to the U-. District. He had trouble keeping a job, and wasn't adjusting well to life outside prison.
"In the outside world, it might have been unsafe for him," says Low. "It wasn't as structured and the wheels fell off the cart for him."
What happened Monday night, prosecutors say, is the result. "Our concern is that these victims feel unsafe; they feel vulnerable, he knows where they live," adds O'Toole. He hopes the high bail gives all the victims some sense of security.
Prosecutors expect to file charges by Thursday, They believe if convicted, it will be enough to put Thompson behind bars for the rest of his life.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Attack suspect is convicted rapist
Sex offender was freed after request to send him to McNeil Island was denied
By HECTOR CASTRO
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
A convicted rapist who last year narrowly avoided being locked away indefinitely as a sexually violent predator heads back to court today, suspected of attacking two women and forcing one to strip.
Curtis Shane Thompson, 45, a level three sex offender, put up a violent struggle with police outside a University District apartment building Monday where the assaults took place, at one point trying to snatch an officer's gun from the holster, police said.
"Who knows what would have happened had he been able to gain control of that officer's gun," police spokesman Scott Moss said yesterday. "It could have been a lot worse."
Thompson was treated at Harborview Medical Center for injuries resulting from the fight, then booked into the King County Jail for investigation of robbery, assault, kidnapping, harassment and disarming a police officer.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer does not usually name suspects before they are charged but is identifying Thompson because of his criminal history, his status as a registered sex offender and the questions raised during his civil commitment hearing.
A bail hearing is set for today, and charges are expected to be filed before the end of the week, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office.
"We intend to file the most serious felony charges possible and send him back to prison for a very long time," Donohoe said.
Thompson was well known to police. Because he was a level three sex offender living in Seattle , detectives with the department's Special Assault Unit checked on him regularly, Capt. Neil Low said. State law requires authorities to check on level three sex offenders at least once every 90 days, Low said, but Seattle police checked on Thompson at least once a week.
Just last week, a pair of detectives spent 30 minutes visiting Thompson at his most recent residence, an apartment in the 4700 block of Roosevelt Way Northeast.
According to a police report, Thompson was arrested about 10 p.m. Monday after the women pointed him out to officers.
Police said four women, all in their early 20s, were smoking outside their apartment building at Ninth Avenue Northeast and Northeast 42nd Street when Thompson approached and made small talk.
Two of the women headed home and two others began walking into the building. Thompson followed the two going into the building.
When the women challenged him, saying he didn't live there and needed to leave, he allegedly grabbed one victim's purse and punched her in the eye. The two women ran to the elevator, but he prevented the doors from closing.
A 60-year-old resident who heard screaming came to help, but Thompson slugged him, knocking him to the floor of the elevator, police said.
The women told police that Thompson rifled through the purse he snatched, blocking them from leaving the elevator, and then abruptly ordered one woman to remove her blouse, threatening to "kick her head through the wall" if she did not do as he said.
The woman complied, but when he ordered her to remove more clothing she refused. He had just taken a step toward her when she heard the sound of arriving police and bolted from the elevator.
The women's friends saw what happened at the elevator and called 911. Patrol officers arrived just as the shirtless victim ran yelling from the apartment building with Thompson right behind her.
One officer tried to grab Thompson, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 220 pounds. But Thompson was able to break free and attack another officer, punching that officer several times in the head, police said.
Several officers managed to wrestle Thompson to the ground, where he allegedly tried to yank a police gun from its holster.
But police were able to handcuff him. Medics arrived to treat the two officers and Thompson, who reportedly received more than 20 stitches in his head.
Before being loaded into an ambulance, Thompson threatened a female officer, allegedly saying, "You don't know who I am. I will kill you."
Thompson's history of criminal activity and sexual violence is well documented. He was convicted in 1985 of breaking into the homes of five women between March 1985 and July 1985, raping four of them and attempting a fifth rape.
He used knives and guns in these attacks, slicing one woman's arm from elbow to wrist. In one instance, he indicated he had been watching the woman's home and knew when her husband would be gone. In another, he had worked as a painter in the victim's apartment building.
Thompson usually bound his victims, always threatened to hurt or kill them, and tried to cover their faces with pillows or other bedding.
When Thompson reached the end of his sentence in May 2002, King County prosecutors tried to have him sent to the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island , arguing in court documents that Thompson remained a sexually violent predator
Psychological reports cited in court documents said Thompson felt anger and hostility toward women in general and that his violence would escalate. One psychiatrist found him to be a sexual sadist.
In sessions with mental health professionals, Thompson admitted to sexually molesting relatives and to stabbing a friend in the back, leaving the young man paralyzed.
He also admitted to a history of voyeurism. He kept guns and knives with him since his teen years, he said, mostly as protection during his times dealing drugs.
When arrested for the rapes in 1985, Thompson admitted to more than 40 burglaries.
But in prison, Thompson become a model inmate, had no problems with female officers, and apparently embraced the religion of his mother, becoming a devout Jehovah's Witness and refusing any treatment beyond meeting with other members of his faith.
"Apparently, he does well in institutions," Low said.
The jury at his civil commitment hearing decided that Thompson did not meet the criteria of a sexually violent predator and he was released in October, moving in with his mother in her Ravenna neighborhood home.
On July 24, he moved to an apartment in the 4700 block of Roosevelt Way Northeast .
Low said police notified management and tenants that Thompson had moved in. Because Thompson had served his sentence, he was not under Department of Corrections supervision.
Still, Low said, Thompson followed the rules for registered sex offenders. "He reported each of his moves," Low said.
Thompson told detectives he was active with his Jehovah's Witness congregation, said he had a part-time job and a girlfriend.
But when he met with detectives last week, Thompson complained he was stymied in his efforts to enter society again.
When he tried to register for classes at a community college, he told detectives, administrators told him that if he did, they would go to the front of each of his classes and alert students of his status as a sex offender.
Low said that was Thompson's version of what happened, but he conceded that police have a delicate job -- balancing oversight of sex offenders without destroying their efforts to become law-abiding members of the community.
"We do the best we can to help them succeed," he said. "If they are succeeding, there are no more victims."
In Thompson's case, he said, police worried he would attack again.
"That's our fear," Low said. "A level three is somebody who climbs in through the window and attacks someone in the still of night with a high level of violence."
P-I reporter Hector Castro can be reached at 206-903-5396 or email@example.com
Convicted Rapist Arrested Again In U-District Attack
August 24, 2004
By Tracy Vedder
SEATTLE - Prosecutors said a convicted sex offender would attack again and now police think he has. Only this time, it was all caught on surveillance tape.
When Curtis Thompson raped four women in 1985, there were no witnesses. But this time, police say the crime happened in full view of a surveillance camera outside a University District apartment building.
The building's doors are kept locked. But, on the tape, you can see two women outside the back door smoking.
Police say Thompson approached them, pushing his way inside. And they say he was immediately violent.
"He punched her in the face," describes Seattle Police Officer Scott Moss.
The 45-year-old Thompson is 6 feet 3 inches, and weighs 220 pounds. He's a big man. The tape shows us another tenant walking inside while the attack is happening. But off camera when the he tried to help, Thompson punched him as well, then forced one of the women to take her blouse off.
"Then he threatened to kick her head through the wall if she didn't do so," adds Officer Moss.
Prosecutors say even though Thompson completed an 18-year prison term, they wanted him committed as a violent sexual predator. A psychologist called him a sexual sadist.
But last fall, a jury decided Thompson should be released.
He is listed as a level three sex offender, which means they could be at a high risk to reoffend.
Thompson lives in a small boarding house just five blocks away from the apartment building where the attack occurred.
Roommate Stephen Vaughn had doubts about Thompson right away. And then police distributed the warning flyer listing Thompson as a Level III offender.
"Once I got this notification, I knew my suspicions were justified," he said.
But no one at this apartment where the attack occurred saw the notification. When Thompson approached the women, no one knew of his past. This time, tenants called 911 and the victim broke away, and police arrested him.
But resident Jayme Chiu wonders why Thompson was out in the first place.
"What kind of system do we have in place here? That's just not appropriate," she said.
Police are just thankful that this time there was an arrest before anything worse happened.
The King County Prosecutor's Office says it intends to file the most serious felony charges possible against Thompson, who is being held for investigation of kidnapping, assault and robbery.
Police believe he is a three strikes candidate and if convicted, could go to prison for the rest of his life.
Friday, October 10, 2003 , 02:37 P.M.
Rapist moves in, worrying neighbors
By Christine Clarridge and Jonathan Martin
Seattle Times staff reporters
Like some of her neighbors, Caroline Simpson has spent a few sleepless nights since hearing over the weekend that a convicted rapist had just moved into her Bryant neighborhood in Northeast Seattle .
The university professor wasn't unsympathetic to the man's plight. After all, the man, Curtis Thompson, had done his time and had to find someplace to live - in this case, it's with his mother.
And, Simpson says, she's known Thompson's mother for years and is sorry for the situation she finds herself in. "I felt so bad for her," Simpson said.
Yet she couldn't shake her fear.
So yesterday she did what a lot of her neighbors have done and arranged for the installation of a home-security system.
Know your neighborhood
Police emphasize that thousands of registered sex offenders live in Washington , in every community. King County alone tracks at least 3,900 sex offenders in its database. Snohomish County lists hundreds, not including the offenders listed as "Level 1," or considered unlikely to reoffend. Pierce County reports at least 2,100 registered sex offenders.
Most counties now have web sites so residents can search by name or address to find out if more serious sex offenders are living near them.
For King County :
For Snohomish County :
For Pierce County :
The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs is working on a statewide Internet search. For now, they have links to 30 of 39 counties in Washington : http://www.waspc.org/wa_sex/index.shtml
"I like to believe in second chances," said Simpson. "And I hope that he recovers fully, gets his life together and is a success story for the state of Washington . But what can I say, I have my doubts, and this is something we can do to feel safe."
A King County Superior Court jury on Friday rejected a plea from prosecutors to send Thompson - convicted in 1985 of using a gun or a knife to rape four women - to a secure treatment center for sexual offenders.
Experts for the prosecution testified during the three-week civil-commitment trial that Thompson, 44, was a sexual sadist, still harbored anger toward women and was at a high risk to reoffend.
Defense attorneys argued that Thompson had a record of exemplary behavior during his 18-year incarceration, including good relationships with several women who worked for the state Department of Corrections.
"They felt there was reasonable doubt about whether he would reoffend," said Anita Paulsen, one of Thompson's attorneys. Of the 185 current residents at the state's Special Commitment Center for sex offenders, 72 are awaiting commitment trials.
Since the process was created in 1990, only two other commitment trials, neither of them in King County, ended with the sex offender being released, said Sarah Sappington, a senior counsel with the Attorney General's Office, which handles trials for every county but King.
Although those men are guaranteed a trial within two months, nearly all waive the right, said Sappington.
Many of them hold out hope the controversial commitment process will be thrown out by an appeals court, but the U.S. Supreme Court has twice upheld Washington 's law.
The average wait for a commitment trial outside King County is about two years, although Sappington is preparing to go to trial in November in the case of a Wenatchee man who has been held at the Special Commitment Center since 1995.
After Thompson's release, he told authorities he intended to live with his mother in her home in the Bryant neighborhood.
Police scrambled to notify residents.
On Sunday, a community meeting was held by police, who talked to neighbors about Thompson's crimes and what they can do to be safe.
Dozens of neighbors have called security companies or gone shopping to look for ways to further secure their windows and doors.
An employee of Security By Design in Seattle reported that several residents of the Bryant neighborhood have requested complete home-security systems, while others have requested the installation of such equipment as outdoor cameras or panic buttons in bedrooms.
Rick Keltner of American Veterans Security had just finished signing a contract with Caroline Simpson when he was flagged down by another neighbor.
"What happens is that something like this triggers the idea in people's minds that they're not doing all they should be doing," he said.
Another woman, who didn't want to be named, said she had made an appointment this week for an existing security system in her home to be reactivated.
"I've slept a total of six hours in the last three nights," she said. "I keep waking up and thinking that someone is in my room."
Even additional security may not be enough to reassure her. Her father is pressing her to sell the house and move on.
"It breaks my heart because I love this neighborhood, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to feel safe here again," she said.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Jonathan Martin: 206-464-2605 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company
Tuesday, October 7, 2003
Jury rejects plea to keep rapist locked away
He's set free, not declared a sexually violent offender
By WYATT BUCHANAN
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
A jury for the first time has rejected the request of King County prosecutors to send a convicted rapist who had already served his prison sentence to an indefinite stay at a locked commitment center.
The decision by the jury meant that Curtis Thompson, convicted of committing four Seattle rapes in 1985, walked out of the King County Courthouse a free man. For the first time in more than 17 years, he is living outside custody -- in his mother's home near Sand Point.
Prosecutors asked that he be declared a sexually violent offender, which meant that he would be sent to the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island .
While waiting for a hearing and a jury to decide on the prosecutors' request, Thompson spent another year behind bars.
Until Friday's decision, a jury had never turned prosecutors down when they wanted a sex offender committed.
"The jury determined he's not a threat, and that's all I'm going to say. I'm happy he's home," Thompson's mother said yesterday at the home she now shares with her 44-year-old son. She declined to give her name.
Other people in the quiet neighborhood are uneasy about having Thompson, labeled a Level 3 sex offender, in their midst. Level 3 offenders are deemed the most likely to commit more crimes.
"It's causing a lot of fear and unease," said Matt Delcomyn, 39, who bought a house one year ago across the street from where Thompson now lives.
"I know he's done his time, but he's got another decade or so to prove himself to society, and I don't want to wait around to find out," he said.
Thompson registered with the King County Sheriff's office yesterday, listing his address in the 5500 block of 39th Avenue Northeast .
"Certainly he is a risk to reoffend, but that doesn't mean he will," said Detective Robert Shilling of the Seattle Police Department's special assault unit. Shilling notified neighbors Friday of Thompson's presence and held a community meeting about his release on Sunday.
Thompson had been held at the Special Commitment Center since his May 2002 release from prison.
For three weeks, jurors heard testimony in the hearing, in which prosecutors had to prove Thompson was more likely than not to commit another sexually related offense if he were not locked up. The jury took about half a day to reach its unprecedented decision.
Richard Warner, a public defender who represented Thompson, called the decision "courageous" while co-counsel Anita Paulsen said the jurors -- who asked questions of the witnesses during the hearing -- had obviously satisfied their own concerns about Thompson's release.
"These are people who live in King County who, just like all of us, are going to live in neighborhoods where he is going to be," Paulsen said.
Thompson's religious studies while in custody, his minimal number of infractions in prison and his work ethic there, as well as never having any problems with female kitchen staff or female officers, likely weighed in his favor, Paulsen said.
County officials believe Thompson belongs in the state center.
"We file civil commitment cases when we believe there is a high risk of reoffense, and this is ultimately a question that goes before a jury," said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the county prosecutor's office.
Thompson was convicted of four rapes that occurred between April and July of 1985. He also was convicted of assault in an attempted rape and of burglary. In most of the incidents, Thompson threatened his victims with a knife or a gun and bound their feet and hands. He did not know any of the victims.
In all the incidents, Thompson broke into the women's homes and woke them up before raping them. In one incident, he cut a woman's arm from elbow to wrist, raped her with a broomstick and punched the woman's teenage daughter in the face when she came home.
Psychological reports from 1998 and 2002 found Thompson had a moderate to high risk of reoffending. Those reports cited a "deep-seated and currently suppressed anger and hostility toward women in general, which has gone untreated" and "concerns that the increasing tendency towards violence already noted by the prior record would only escalate."
Thompson did not undergo a psychological treatment program from the state while incarcerated, though he had frequent counseling sessions with fellow Jehovah's Witnesses.
His attorneys said he sought treatment in 1995, but was told he had to wait until 1998 -- or three years before his release date -- to receive it.
"He asked and asked for treatment, and when he didn't get it, he found his own way," Paulsen said.
County prosecutors argued that Thompson has a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes him likely to commit acts of sexual violence against strangers, according to court filings. A psychologist who interviewed Thompson in May 2002 concluded he was a sexual sadist.
Before the jury read its verdict Friday, Thompson had written a letter to the court, apologizing to his victims and their families and thanking the jury for hearing his case.
He wrote the letter assuming that he would be committed, his attorneys said. Thompson's release has encouraged others at the center who see their situation as hopeless, Paulsen said.