Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge Stephen E. Brown last week found probable cause to civilly commit a man who was at the end of a 27-year sentence for sex crimes in Hoquiam and Aberdeen in 1993. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office had filed a petition to prevent his release to the community.
Gary Lee Clark, 58, was convicted in 1993 of second-degree rape with forcible compulsion, first-degree rape, and residential burglary with sexual motivation. He was given an exceptional sentence — above the standard range for the charges — of just more than 27 years.
Clark was due to be released from prison Sept. 7 after serving his sentence for the first-degree rape and burglary convictions.
The Attorney General’s Office petitioned to have him committed, alleging that he is mentally ill and dangerous. Judge Brown found probable cause to believe Clark is a sexually violent predator, a preliminary ruling that allows the state to detain him for further proceedings.
In its filing with Superior Court in August, the Attorney General’s Office maintained that Clark should be held beyond his sentence completion in part because of his 1993 conviction in Grays Harbor County, and a prior conviction for forcible rape in Pierce County in 1979.
In early August, a psychological evaluation found that Clark “currently suffers from a mental abnormality which predisposes him to the commission of criminal sexual acts in a degree which constitute him a menace to the health and safety of others,” and “due to this abnormality Clark is more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined to a secure facility.”
The evaluation included Clark’s history while incarcerated for strong-arming other inmates for sexual favors and described as engaging in predatory sexual behavior as it pertained to weaker and more vulnerable inmates.” At the inception of Clark’s sexual deviancy treatment while incarcerated, Clark generally denied his deviant sexual interests but later acknowledged “that the victim’s resistance made him more sexually aroused during his sex offenses.”
The Attorney General’s Office petition, signed by Assistant Attorney General Rose McGillis, concluded Clark “should be committed to the custody of the Department of Social and Health Services for placement into a secure facility for control, care, and treatment until such time as (his) condition has so changed that he no longer meets the definition of a sexually violent predator, or conditional release to a less restrictive alternative is in the best interest (of Clark) and conditions can be imposed that would adequately protect the community.”
Brown’s order Monday said, “There is probable cause to believe (Clark) is a sexually violent predator,” and that Clark “shall remain at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island and held there until further order of this Court.” The Attorney General’s Office and Clark’s attorney, listed as Sonja Hardenbrook, will set a trial date with Grays Harbor Superior Court administration.
Grays Harbor conviction
Court documents state that Clark, in the early morning hours of April 10, 1993, entered a woman’s apartment in Hoquiam. The woman told investigators she awoke to find a man kissing her and touching her sexually. She said Clark tried to restrain her while exposing himself. She was able to break free and call police from a neighbor’s residence and later picked Clark out of a photo lineup.
A few hours later, a woman was walking on Park Street in Aberdeen when a man later identified as Clark approached her.
“After a short time the defendant grabbed her by the hair and hit her in the jaw,” read court documents. “He then put his hand over her mouth, threatening to kill her if she yelled or screamed. The defendant told her that he had a gun, placing his hand in his pocket.”
The documents state that Clark sexually assaulted the woman multiple times before taking her to a nearby convenience store, contacting another individual and asking that individual to take the victim, whom he referred to as his “sister,” home. She contacted police and also picked Clark out of a photo lineup.
Sexually Violent Predator Law
Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator law allows the state Attorney General’s Office to petition for the civil commitment of violent sex offenders after they have served their criminal sentences if the defendant has a mental abnormality and/or personality disorder and are proven likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if released, according to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office.
The State of Washington has the burden to prove the allegations supporting civil commitment.
In 1990, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a law permitting the involuntary civil commitment of sex offenders after they have served their criminal sentences. The Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit was established shortly thereafter. As of May 2020, 238 sexually violent predators are in the state’s Special Commitment Program, according to the Attorney General’s Office.