Franklin County sex predator appears in court

Franklin County sex predator appears in court »Play Video
PASCO, Wash. -- Attorneys from the Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) Unit of the Attorney General’s Office are in the Tri-Cities fighting to prevent the release of a Franklin County sex predator who has been confined to the state’s Special Commitment Center for the past 13 years.

Ronald Love, 56, has been convicted of three sexually violent offenses committed over decades.

Love appeared in a Franklin County courtroom Friday while a jury was selected for the two-week trial.

He was confined to the Special Commitment Center in 2001, when the state filed a petition alleging he is a sexually violent predator. In 2005, a trial judge agreed, and ordered Love’s indefinite commitment. Love is now asking to be released unconditionally into the community.

Under Washington’s civil commitment law, the Attorney General’s Office must demonstrate Love suffers from specific mental abnormalities and/or personality disorders that cause him to have serious difficulty in controlling his dangerous behavior and make him likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence unless confined to a secure facility.

Attorneys from the Attorney General’s SVP Unit will argue during the trial that Love does meet the criteria, thus continues to pose a great risk to community safety, and should remain confined indefinitely to the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

The State of Washington has the burden to prove any and all of its allegations in court.

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 SVP Unit was established shortly thereafter.

The SVP unit is responsible for prosecuting sex predator cases for 38 of Washington’s 39 counties (King County being the exception). In Fiscal Year 2013, the unit tried 19 cases, won 16 civil commitments and secured one re-commitment. One trial ended in a hung jury and one offender was found by a jury not to meet criteria to be committed as a sexually violent predator.

As of October 2013, approximately 301 sexually violent predators are in the state’s Special Commitment Program.