Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is There Help?


Patrick Velez walked into a fast-food restaurant in Pierce County and kidnapped two teenage female employees at knifepoint. He bound their wrists, taped their eyes and mouths shut, drove them to a secluded area. Then he raped one of the victims, who was 17.

Later convicted of the November 1981 crimes, Velez wound up spending eight years in sex-offender treatment, in and out of prison. He kept logs of his fantasies, took polygraph tests, underwent "arousal reconditioning" and learned how to have positive relationships.

By the time Velez left prison in 2000, officials still considered him a high-risk offender, but were encouraged by his progress. He had "done quite well in treatment," a therapist wrote in his prison records, and had demonstrated "good relapse-prevention knowledge."

Last month, prosecutors charged him with trying to strangle a woman after hiding in her car in a Costco parking lot in Tukwila. He had a "rape kit" -- knife, gloves and handcuffs -- along with condoms, lubricant, a douche bag and women's underwear in his car, police said.

While the Velez case is alarming, another treated sex offender, Terapon Adhahn, recently stirred outrage across Washington, prompting calls for a one-strike-you're-out-law. The Tacoma handyman is accused of graduating from incest to kidnapping, child rape and murder.

Velez and Adhahn offer glimpses into the conflicted world of sex-offender therapy. Despite inconsistent research findings on the subject, sex-offender treatment is not only a fixture in criminal justice, but also a burgeoning field, with the number of certified therapists more than doubling statewide in the last 10 years.

And while the overall climate for sex offenders has radically changed -- with longer sentences and more restrictions -- treatment has largely remained static, relying on the same cognitive-behavioral methods introduced in the 1980s.

"It's an ongoing question, there's no two ways about it," said Roxanne Lieb, director of the Washington State Institute of Public Policy, on the effectiveness of treatment. "Certainly, it's not a cure-all," she said.

Last year, Lieb's office released a study that found that Washington's prison treatment program for male sex offenders -- one of the largest in the nation -- had virtually no effect on reducing recidivism rates.

The study echoed a landmark 2005 study, in which researchers found that a California hospital program for confined sex offenders had no significant impact on curbing repeat crimes.

Both studies, however, have detractors who point to other studies showing that treatment works.

"There's pretty good evidence that if you pick out the right kind of people, who feel badly about what they've done, you can alter those patterns," Lieb said. "But if you have someone who's anti-social, who hates women or who is sexually attracted to little kids, no one knows anything about what to do about those three things."

'End goal is not a cure'

When Velez pleaded guilty to first-degree rape in 1982, he was a 19-year-old with entrenched sexual deviancies, court records show. He had peeped on neighbors as a child growing up in Tacoma. He burglarized homes to steal women's underwear.

As a teenager, he cruised for rape victims and once hid in the back seat of a woman's car, he told therapists. He had threatened the woman with scissors, but fled when she screamed and was never caught.

For the assault on the restaurant workers, which one therapist described as "brutal" and "extremely predatory," Velez received a 20-year suspended sentence. That required him to complete a now-defunct program at Western State Hospital for "sexual psychopaths."

Velez flunked out after five years. He got a second chance at treatment and flunked again, after fantasizing about raping his therapist.

He then went to prison in 1989, where he enrolled in the state's Sex Offender Treatment Program, based at the Twin Rivers Unit in the Monroe Correctional Complex.

Despite Lieb's study, prison officials are quick to defend the 200-bed, $1.8 million-a-year program. In fact, they want to expand it, with a second location in Eastern Washington.

"The study says what it says," said Sally Neiland, the treatment program's unit supervisor. "But being here every day, seeing men released, watching them graduate, hearing from them they have successful lives -- they report that wouldn't have happened without treatment."

Neiland could not discuss Velez, but said offenders in general spend about a year in treatment, learning to recognize stressors such as anger or boredom, and to change thought and behavior patterns.

Many undergo a process called "arousal reconditioning," in which a deviant fantasy is paired with a foul odor such as Limburger cheese, rotting meat or skunk urine. (Twin Rivers used to use ammonia capsules, but stopped when they learned the method can be harmful).

Offenders also learn how to manage emotions, develop social skills and empathize with victims, in part by listening to a Holocaust survivor.

"The end goal is not a cure," Neiland said. "It's to assist them in learning what situations lead them to offend and how to create intervention."

By the time Velez left prison, he had married a nurse educator he met at a hospital. He had begun attending Quaker meetings and taking classes in computer programming. He moved into his wife's rural Maple Valley home, where he did well under the terms of his two-year community supervision. It ended in 2002. The next five years are a mystery.

Velez, who is now in the Regional Justice Center jail, did not return a call for comment, nor did his wife.

"I wonder what was going on in his life, and how did he fail to use the tools that he was given?" Neiland said. "How did he unravel?"

Therapists often fooled

In Adhahn's case, treatment meant five years of court-ordered therapy after he pleaded guilty to incest for raping a teenage relative in 1990.

He fulfilled that by going to group therapy, much of it once a week, and submitting himself to polygraph and plethysmograph tests, the latter of which measures penile arousal to sexual material.

Toward the end of treatment, counselor Daniel DeWaelsche lauded Adhahn's progress.

"Terapon has demonstrated that he is using the skills and techniques, gleaned in sex-offender treatment, on a day-to-day basis to avoid recidivism," DeWaelsche wrote in 1997. "It has been a pleasure working with Terapon."

Ten years later, prosecutors say Adhahn kidnapped, raped and killed 12-year-old Zina Linnik, and raped two other girls, one of whom was abducted on her way to school.

DeWaelsche did not return a call for comment.

Experts say it's not uncommon for offenders to fool therapists, and that some people do well in treatment and deteriorate later.

Beyond that, answers become well-oiled bromides. Experts know that a subset of offenders -- psychopaths, predators and extreme deviants -- are more dangerous than others and may not do well in treatment. Of the more than a dozen violent predators released from the state's Special Commitment Center since 2001, more than half have had their releases revoked.

Experts also say most sex offenders rarely reoffend, a notation usually followed by a swift acknowledgement that all sex crimes are traumatic, no matter how rare. Then they say there are no simple answers.

More counselors are combining therapy with anti-depressants and anti-androgens, which reduce testosterone and are sometimes called "chemical castration." But anti-androgens can have severe side effects, and only a few offenders take them.

"The reality is this: Nothing beats intelligence," said Richard Packard, a clinical forensic psychologist on Bainbridge Island and past president of the Washington Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.

But research and supervision are expensive, he said. "We spend no money on trying to understand how to do it better -- how to evaluate and treat sex offenders better."

Instead, many therapists find themselves cringing at the inevitable clamor that follows high-profile sex crimes.

"It's no big secret treatment doesn't work. You cannot rewire somebody's mind," said state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, a longtime supporter of tougher sentences and decreased funding for treatment.

House Republicans recently proposed GPS tracking for high-risk offenders and up to a year in prison for failing to register. Gov. Chris Gregoire has appointed a group to study the Adhahn case and propose any legislative changes by Oct. 4.

Spurred by outrage over the Adhahn charges, citizens lobbying for an improbable one-strike-you're-out law for sex offenders have rekindled their efforts.

"What is just? I'm not saying I have an answer, and I'm a psychologist," Packard said. "I mean, you do that to my kid, believe me, I'm going to be really mad."

But many sex offenders benefit from treatment, he said, and few are incarcerated forever. Then he asked the question of the ages: "So, what are we going to do about it?"

Friday, July 13, 2007


Sent to court while serving time at the sex offender treatment program on McNeil Island WA

Principal convicted of rape

A popular Tacoma middle school principal is expected to submit his resignation Monday after being convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman at an after-hours party three years ago.
A Pierce County jury found Harold Wright Jr. guilty of third-degree rape Thursday in the assault on the woman, who was 19 at the time. The jury deliberated for about a day and a half before reaching its verdict.

Wright, 36, served as principal at Baker Middle School from 2002 until he was placed on administrative leave from his $98,000-per-year job in February after being charged in the case, Tacoma School District spokeswoman Leanna Albrecht said.

Albrecht said the district is ready to fire Wright if he doesn’t quit voluntarily. Vice principal Steve Holmes is set to serve as interim principal for the coming school year, pending approval of the School Board, she said.

Wright is to be sentenced Aug. 31 by Superior Court Judge Lisa Worswick. He faces a standard range of six to 12 months in jail.

His co-defendant, Richy Carter, 33, was convicted of the same charge Thursday. Carter, who has a previous felony conviction, faces about 14 months in state prison. He is to be sentenced Aug. 31 as well.

Both will have to register as sex offenders.

Wright shook his head and Carter’s eyes became moist after the jury announced its verdict about noon. Many of the nearly 20 people there to support the men began to cry.

“Stunned is a fair word to use,” Wright’s attorney, Wayne Fricke, said of his reaction to the verdict.

Superior Court Judge Lisa Worswick ordered both men taken into custody.

Wright was released until his sentencing after posting $10,000 bail a short time later. Carter was being held on $20,000 bail until his sentencing.

Both men exchanged handshakes and hugs with supporters before they were led to jail.

Wright and Carter were accused of sexually assaulting the woman at the town house of a friend after meeting her and two of her friends at a Puyallup bar.

The victim, now 23, attended Spanaway Lake High School while Wright worked there as an assistant principal before he joined the Tacoma School District in 2000.

The woman testified she was held down and raped by at least one man, possibly two, in an upstairs bedroom. She couldn’t remember many specific details of the attack during her testimony but was adamant that she did not consent to sex and believed Wright was in the room at the time.

Carter’s DNA was found inside her vagina during a sexual-assault exam later that day, and forensics technicians found DNA consistent with Wright’s on the woman’s breast area.

Carter testified during the nearly three-week trial that he had consensual sex with the woman. Wright testified that he had no sexual contact with her whatsoever. He said his DNA might have gotten on her when he pushed her away from him as she danced close to him wearing only jeans and her bra.

Deputy prosecutor Lori Kooiman, who tried the case along with colleague Kevin McCann, said Thursday it was one of the toughest cases she’s ever brought to trial.

The men initially were charged with second-degree rape. To convict on that charge, jurors would have had to believe Wright and Carter used force or the threat of force to compel the woman to have unwanted sex with them. A conviction on that charge carries a minimum sentence of 61/2 years in prison.

The third-degree rape charge is a lesser crime but still a felony. It required the jury to find only that the men had sex with the victim without her consent or aided someone in such a crime.

Fricke, who talked to jurors after the verdict, said they believed Wright acted as an accomplice.

Judge Worswick allowed jurors to consider the lesser crime at the request of prosecutors. Fricke said that might have been improper and that he might appeal Wright’s conviction on those grounds.

Efforts to talk to Carter’s attorney, Rob Freeby, were unsuccessful.

Jurors – four women and eight men – declined to talk to a reporter as they left the County-City Building.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Texas Lawmakers OK Death for Child Rape

Texas sex offenders who are twice convicted of raping children under 14 could get the death penalty under a bill state lawmakers approved Friday.

The state House passed Texas' version of "Jessica's Law," a crackdown on sex offenders who prey on children, a day after the Senate approved it.

The bill is named for Jessica Lunsford, a Florida girl who was abducted and killed. More than a dozen states have passed versions of Jessica's Law.

Gov. Rick Perry has said he was open to the idea of the death penalty in child sex cases and that passage of a child sex offender bill is a legislative emergency. Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said the governor will wait to read the final version of the bill before deciding whether to sign it into law.

"The purpose is to make Texas a safer place for children and a more dangerous place for their predators," said Republican Rep. Debbie Riddle, the bill's House sponsor.

Texas would be the sixth state to add the death penalty for some child rape cases, although legal experts debate whether the punishment would be unconstitutional in cases where the victim did not die. Louisiana has an inmate on death row in a child sex crime, but that case is being appealed.

Democratic Rep. Lon Burnam called child sex crimes horrendous but said the state that executes more inmates than any other should not expand its use of the death penalty.

Victim advocates have warned that adding the death penalty would do more harm than good if it leads perpetrators to kill victims to avoid leaving witness.

The bill also creates a new category of crime - continual sexual abuse of a young child or children, carrying a minimum penalty of 25 years to life in prison.


MySpace says it will not turn over names of sex offenders to attorneys general
RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) - said Tuesday it will not comply with a request by attorneys general from eight U.S. states to hand over the names of registered sex offenders who use the social networking Web site.

In a statement, MySpace's chief security officer said state and federal laws prohibit the Web site from sharing such information.

"We are doing everything short of breaking the law to ensure that the information about these predators gets to the proper authorities," the security officer, Hemanshu Nigam, said in the news release.

The statement did not specify which laws MySpace would break by handing authorities the information, and a call to the company was not immediately returned.

In December, MySpace announced it was partnering with Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. to build a database with information on sex offenders in the United States.

Software to identify and remove sex offenders from the site has been used for 12 days, and MySpace has "removed every registered sex offender that we identified out of our more than 175 million profiles," Nigam said.

In a letter Monday, attorneys general from North Carolina, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania asked MySpace to provide the number of registered sex offenders using the site and where they live.

MySpace, which is owned by News Corp., and other social networking sites allow users to create online profiles with photos, music and personal information, including hometowns and education. Users can send messages to one another and, in many cases, browse other profiles.

MySpace's policy prevents children under 14 from setting up profiles, but it relies on users to specify their ages.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Stanford was convicted of 1st Degree Child Molestation in 1998 for exposing himself and molesting his daughter’s friend, age 11. He also exposed himself to another child on numerous occasions. Stanford has a long history of molestation and exposing himself, by his own estimation exposing himself to at least 100 victims and molesting at least five. Stanford was unsuccessful in sex offender treatment, being terminated from the program for lack of progress and an unwillingness to acknowledge he has a problem. He is considered likely to re-offend.

WM, DOB/ 06-01-62

5'11", 190#, red hair, blue eye


Walla Walla, WA


In 1996 Jackson was convicted of two counts of Child Molestation 1st degree; his victims were female children, aged three and six. In 2000 he pled guilty to Residential Burglary with Sexual Motivation after burglarizing two homes and stealing women's’ and girls’ underwear. In addition to the crimes of conviction, Jackson has admitted to other child victims and sexually deviant behavior. He did participate in sex offender treatment during his most recent incarceration but made only minimal progress. He is considered at a moderate to high risk to re offend, possibly with sexual violence.
Jackson is on supervision with DOC, and his conditions of supervision prohibit him from having any contact with minors or enter areas frequented by minors, such as parks, pools, school yards or playgrounds

WM, DOB/ 12-12-80

5'07", 180#, brown hair, brown eyes

500 block S 2nd, Walla Walla, WA