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?"


Anonymous said...

McNeil Island counselor investigated

ROB TUCKER; The News Tribune
Nora Cutshaw had a job for nearly three years watching some of the state’s most violent sex predators during community visits in the Puget Sound area.
She recently resigned as a residential rehabilitation counselor for the state’s Special Commitment Center at McNeil Island.

Now state officials say they would have fired her if she hadn’t resigned first.

They say Cutshaw, 38, didn’t follow established driving routes while supervising a child rapist, brought a revealing photo of herself into a secure male sex offender facility, and violated other policies.

Henry Richards, SCC superintendent, described Cutshaw’s actions in a notification letter he wrote to her a few days after she resigned.

“They were not only completely contrary to your obligation to maintain a therapeutic environment,” Richards wrote, “but also placed yourself and the community at risk.”

Hundreds of pages of investigative records obtained by The News Tribune reveal details from the Cutshaw case and show the potential for rehab staff to cross professional boundaries.

They also shed light on the little-known role McNeil Island’s 25 unarmed counselors play in protecting the public from sex offenders who are preparing to return to society. Five offenders are currently in the escort program.

Cutshaw sometimes took sex offender Casper Ross on his approved visits off the island to see family and to work at concrete and masonry job sites, among other places.

Ross was convicted in 1987 of raping a 12-year-old girl while armed with a knife. He was sent to the Special Commitment Center in 1998. He was in a transitional facility early this year, making plans for release, and was considered by some a low risk to reoffend.

But suspicions were raised April 1 when Cutshaw took Ross to visit his relatives in Lakewood. A city police officer reported that things appeared amiss between Cutshaw and Ross during a routine check of the house.

Lakewood Police Chief Larry Saunders later said there was an “appearance of sexual activity” involving “a very dangerous person.” The state investigation was launched.

Spokesman Steve Williams of the Department of Social and Health Services called this the first serious incident involving escort staff and a resident sex offender from the transition facility, which opened in 2001.

Cutshaw was placed on paid administrative leave and resigned Oct. 22.

Cutshaw’s attorney, Douglas Wyckoff of Olympia, said the accusations of sexual impropriety are unfounded. And in fact, the state investigation didn’t substantiate them.

“It’s been real traumatic for her,” Wyckoff said last week.


The Special Commitment Center holds 268 of the state’s most dangerous sex offenders.

Williams said no felony crimes have occurred at the center since it opened 17 years ago; problems have been limited to minor infractions, personality conflicts and small skirmishes. And none of the handful of sex offenders who are allowed to visit the community have reoffended, he said.

There are 25 residential rehabilitation counselors who work at the center to cover all shifts, 24 hours a day. They are trained in escorting resident sex offenders, in their behavior patterns, in self-defense, hostage survival, crisis intervention, record keeping and other job requirements.

All receive FBI background checks. All are unarmed. They can earn up to $40,692 a year.

Some of them help escort sex offenders who have progressed enough to earn permission go off the island daily to jobs, to visit relatives, for treatment or for other reasons.

The trips are spread throughout the region, including Pierce, King, Snohomish, Mason, Thurston, Kitsap and Lewis counties.

Ross was in this transition program and was authorized to visit relatives in Lakewood on April 1.

Cutshaw, his escort that day, didn’t immediately answer the door when a city police officer knocked repeatedly that afternoon. The officer said she and Ross appeared disheveled when he entered the house.

Cutshaw said later that her hair was mussed because she habitually plays with it and that she was fixing her shirt because she was sitting on the couch watching TV while Ross was repairing his cousin’s computer in another room. She said Ross came out of the bathroom after the officer entered the home.

Based on the police report, Chief Saunders asked state authorities to investigate possible violations of state protocol for overseeing sex offenders on community visits.

Cutshaw’s attorney says the accusations were never substantiated, and he points out that she wasn’t charged with anything.

Lakewood police say they stand by the officer’s report.


Investigators never determined exactly what happened during the Lakewood visit last spring.

What they did find, said Williams of the DSHS, would have been enough to justify Cutshaw’s dismissal.

• Records show that Cutshaw deviated 22 times from planned routes while driving Ross on 10 of his approved community visits in March and April.

Authorities said she didn’t get official approval to make trip changes. They used global positioning technology based on Ross’s ankle bracelet to determine that he made unapproved visits to Federal Way shopping areas, a park, gas stations and fast-food restaurants.

Cutshaw’s union representative told authorities at an October meeting that Cutshaw believed other counselors also deviated from approved trip plans when escorting Ross. Williams said investigators didn’t find evidence of that.

Cutshaw didn’t attend the pre-disciplinary meeting.

• Officials found that Cutshaw brought a color photo of herself wearing a two-piece bathing suit or lingerie into the secure transition facility, records show. Staff members found the photo hidden in Ross’ room.

Cutshaw said later that she didn’t know how Ross got the photo.

“I was shocked,” she said in a deposition. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Cutshaw said she had brought a photo album of wedding cakes to work to show a fellow employee who was planning a wedding. She said the personal photo of her must have been stuck in the back of the album.

Ross told a corrections officer that he took it without Cutshaw’s knowledge after an unnamed staff member let him look at the photo album.

• Authorities said Cutshaw lied on her 2004 state employment application when she stated she had a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Western Carolina University. Officials learned that she had attended the university but had no degree.

Cutshaw said she had to drop out of an online program due to the press of work.

Wyckoff, her attorney, said Cutshaw suffers from a disability and couldn’t comment on the investigation at this time. He wouldn’t say if the disability is related to the investigation.

Richards, the commitment center superintendent, said Cutshaw had received instruction in the center’s policies, in maintaining proper boundaries in escorting sex offender residents, and in understanding the risks of overseeing violent sex offenders. He said she “displayed a severe lack of judgment.”

Williams said authorities will use the Cutshaw-Ross findings as a negative example when training counselors to maintain proper boundaries.


Meanwhile, Ross has been restricted to McNeil Island, pending a Jan. 17 court hearing.

Ross, now 44, was convicted in Pierce County two decades ago and spent 11 years in prison. He then was ordered to undergo treatment at the Special Commitment Center, where he admitted “having a total of six victims of rape behavior,” records show.

Ross had been in the less-restrictive transitional facility on McNeil Island for four years and had submitted plans to move to Tacoma. He held a steady job for six months.

Cutshaw said in a deposition that Ross never acted inappropriately when she was with him. She said she escorted him more than 10 but fewer than 100 times.

A state community corrections officer said Ross underwent a polygraph test about the April 1 Lakewood visit and gave deceptive responses when asked if he and Cutshaw had sexual contact.

But Ross maintained that he “did not touch that woman,” said the officer, Tela Wilson.

Ross’ attorney, Ann Stenberg, said polygraph technology is suspect, so the findings aren’t definitive.

As for the trip deviations, Stenberg said Ross isn’t responsible for his escort’s driving patterns. But, the attorney said, trip changes to go to the bathroom, have lunch or get gas for the car shouldn’t require reporting.

As for the revealing photograph, Stenberg said such issues are normally dealt with in therapy and aren’t a valid reason to take Ross out of the transitional facility.

But Wilson, the community corrections officer, reported to Pierce County Superior Court that Ross failed to comply with his treatment plan and rules because he had an unapproved photo of Cutshaw found hidden in his room behind a framed photograph of his daughter.

Ross also failed to disclose that he had a second photo of Cutshaw standing outside an amusement park.

Stenberg said the state’s investigation originally focused on the Lakewood visit, but because nothing improper occurred there, officials looked elsewhere and ultimately changed the theory of the case.

“It’s a very shaky state theory,” she said.

Rob Tucker: 253-597-8374

A residential rehabilitation counselor escort:

• Should have a high school diploma or general education degree.

• Should have two years of experience in caring for mental patients, or equivalent experience and education.

• Helps carry out planned programs for sex offender residents.

• Performs searches and inspections of residents and visitors.

• Assists residents and visitors in understanding regulations.

• Assists in controlling, directing and monitoring residents.

Anonymous said...

Convicted sex offender arrested for consensual affair

By The Associated Press

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OLYMPIA - One of the first sex offenders ever let out of the state's Special Commitment Center has been arrested, accused of violating the conditions of his release by having extramarital sex, the Department of Social and Health Services says.
Joseph Aqui, a convicted rapist, was released from the center on McNeil Island in 1997 to live with his wife and their children in College Place, near Walla Walla.

"These guys have a treatment plan when they go out," said Steve Williams, a DSHS spokesman. "He's a married man, first of all, and he's a convicted sex offender, and one of the conditions was that he not have extramarital sex."

Williams said the affair was apparently consensual, but didn't know whether the woman knew about Aqui's background.

"At this point we don't see any criminal violations, but the investigation continues," Williams said. "I have no idea who this woman is or where he met her."

Aqui was arrested Wednesday and returned to the Special Commitment Center until a King County Superior Court can review the situation and decide whether to modify the terms of his release, the department said.

Aqui spent nearly 20 years in prison after admitting to 15 rapes and seven attempted rapes. He was ordered into civil commitment in 1993 and was the subject of intense news coverage when he was released from the center.

The commitment center has been the subject of legal and political battles since the Legislature approved the Community Protection Act of 1990. The law allows the state to involuntarily commit inmates deemed "sexually violent predators" after they finish their prison sentences.

But U.S. District Judge William Dwyer later ruled that sex offenders in the center are not getting the basic treatment they need to earn release someday, and ordered the state to provide less restrictive alternatives.

Aqui was released to his home because the state had no less restrictive facility in 1997. A proposal for a halfway house on McNeil Island is currently pending in the Legislature.

Four other people have been released from the center under similar conditions. None has been accused of violating release conditions, the department said.

Anonymous said...
This is a front group for sex offenders, the money is use to buy drugs and child porn at the SCC

Anonymous said...

Lifers Union advocacy Group at:
This is a front group for sex offenders, the money is use to buy drugs and child porn at the SCC

Anonymous said...

Wives and Mothers of Prisoners of the State (WMPS, Inc)() The Community Protection Act, RCW 71.09,(Washington State) was passed to protect the community from the sexual attacks of the states most dangerous sex predators. While the law was passed and the sex offenders are in confinement on McNeil Island they still manage to offend. Using front organizations, the sex offenders, the worst of the worst, are reaching out into the homes, parks, schools, and playgrounds of our state every day. The nonprofit organization, Wives and Mothers of Prisoners of the State (WMPS, Inc), is a front for the child molester Richard Roy Scott who is housed on McNeil Island. Richard Scott, the 60 year old rapist, has victims as young as 7 years old and has stated he has had more than 100 child sexual contacts (rapes). His targets have all been underage male children. WMPS is registered with the Secretary of State with an office address listed at: 750 N 143rd Street Seattle, WA 98133. Richard Roy Scott, along with the help of his two rapist partners, Samuel Donaghe and Donald Owens, has created a front organization called, People’s Paralegal Services (PPS), PO Box 3701, Lacy, WA 98509, the aim of PPS is to help child molesters adopt young children from other countries, fund the legal problems of child rapist, and line their own bank accounts. Both the rapists Donaghe and Owens have long histories of raping young girls and boys. Owens wife, a strange case, is now the community contact person for People’s Paralegal Services, sad that she is a dupe in this immoral venture. We ask that the elected officials in Olympia stop the continued rape of our community by offenders who are at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. Tighten RCW 71.09. Tighten their access to the community, limit their reach to our children and loved ones. Act now for our family’s sake, write, call, email Olympia and have this placed on the table for the next legislative session."

Anonymous said...

Sex Offenders Beg For Cash

Is Lifers Union Advocacy Group ( ) just a front organization for sex predators housed at the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center?
Lifers Union Advocacy Group (LUAG) states:
Lifers Union Advocacy Group (LUAG) is organized exclusively for charitable, educational, and literary purposes, Lifers Union Advocacy Group is organized for the purposes of sponsoring and contributing to activists and/or organizations working toward the betterment in family and otherwise social contacts for individuals incarcerated in prisons and/or mental hospitals nationwide;
This is from the web-page of the group and this is from the web-page of DSHS which keeps this group off the streets:
The Special Commitment Center Program, operated by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), provides a specialized mental health treatment program for civilly committed sex offenders who have completed their prison sentences.
The civil commitment process is under the authority of the superior court in the county where an individual was previously convicted of sex crimes. Only sex offenders whom the court finds to meet the legal definition of a sexually violent predator may be civilly committed to the Special Commitment Center (SCC).
Public safety is the central purpose of the Community Protection Act of 1990. In each of its facilities, the Special Commitment Center Program employs a variety of stringent public safety and security measures to provide for the community's safety.

Yes, the men who operate Lifers Union Advocacy Group are sexually violent predators, the worst of the worst, men like Kevin Coe, the South Hill Rapist, Richard Roy Scott the untreated child rapists, Joel S. Reimer child raper who, if released in the morning would be raping before night fall.
How is it that this group is allowed to use the internet to continue their sex offending ways? The men who run this group are strong-arming weaker inmates, forcing them to give up monies for their personal cause.
The members of Lifers Union Advocacy Group are nothing more then sex predators using the net to offend. Joel S. Reimer aka Jayzack j.s.White Crow-reimer, a man so sick he has been locked away for the last 17 years still finds time to abuse other less able inmates. This rapist is the leader of the newsletter, and must be stopped.

Anonymous said...

Violent Sexual Predator Demands State employees Records

Richard Roy Scott, convicted child rapist, and resident at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, has been demanding the records of state employees. The Sexual Predator, Scott has used information in the past to harass, intimidate, and embarrass staff members. This behavior on the part of Scott the rapist is just a continuation of his predator act on children in the community. According to many of the clinical staff, the predator, Scott, will act out his sexual behaviors in any way possible, much like the alcoholic who will drink cleaning solutions when booze is not available.
The real question is why the state of Washington allows such a sick mind to have employee documents.

Anonymous said...

Cowlitz County's four center residents
Joel S. Reimer, 37
Sexually violated a 7-year-old boy in 1982 at age 13.
Raped and assaulted a 13-year-old boy at age 16 in 1985 -- just two weeks after being released for the previous crime.
Molested a 12-year-old girl in 1990 at age 21 -- less than a month after being released on the rape charge.
The Longview native was civilly committed to the state's Special Commitment Center in 1992 as the 10th man sent there. He was the first from Cowlitz County. He successfully sued the state, claiming he didn't receive adequate mental health treatment in the original Special Commitment Center. The center was located inside two state prisons before the opening of the current facility on McNeil Island in 2005. Won a $10,000 settlement but not his freedom.

Eric St. John, 27
Raped a 2-year-old Longview girl in 1994 when he was 14.
Molested a 10-year-old Kelso girl during the same time period. Also admitted to additional unreported offenses against children.
Amassed numerous parole violations for having children's clothes, toys, pornography and other items in violation of his sex offender treatment.
Arrested for failing to register as a sex offender in 1998 in Asotin County in Southeast Washington. Also tried repeatedly to volunteer with the Boy Scouts and briefly had a job in a McDonald's playland in Asotin County by concealing his convictions.
Civil commitment papers were filed in 1999 due to the 1998 "recent overt acts" in Asotin County. He was subsequently committed and remains on McNeil Island.

Douglas A. Alsteen, 40
Raped a 10-year-old Kelso girl in 1985 at the age of 19.
Pleaded guilty to attempted rape near Castle Rock in 1990 -- at age 23 -- after threatening a woman with a gun, hitting her and telling her he would rape her. Also pleaded guilty to physically assaulting two other women in Kelso with sexual motivation.
Had "numerous infractions of a sexual nature" while incarcerated, according to court records.
Has been at Special Commitment Center since 2005 awaiting a civil commitment trial that had been scheduled to begin Monday but was postponed until June.

James LaBaum, 20
Sexually violated a wheelchair-bound 14-year-old boy in Longview at the age of 12 in 1999.
Attempted to rape a 7-year-old girl in 2001 at the age of 15.
Has had numerous sexual infractions while incarcerated, including touching other inmates, threatening sexual assault and acting out sexually in front of others, according to court records.
Transferred to McNeil Island on Jan. 15 and awaiting a civil commitment hearing, though he's refused a lawyer and told the judge he wants to be committed.
Source: Civil commitment center

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