The Attorney General’s Office made opening statements Wednesday in a trial to determine whether a Pierce County sex predator should remain confined at Washington’s Special Commitment Center.
Manual Lopez, 59, previously served time for rape and burglary. Upon his release, the Attorney General’s Office won a civil commitment trial on June 2, 2010, placing Lopez at the Special Commitment Center for sexually violent predators. As allowed under the law, Lopez is now asking the court for unconditional release into the community.
Under Washington’s civil commitment law, the Attorney General’s Office must demonstrate Lopez 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.
“The Attorney General’s Office works hard to protect our communities from sexually violent predators,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
The trial is expected to continue into next week.
In 1990, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a law permitting the involuntary civil commitment of sex offenders after they serve their criminal sentences. The AGO’s SVP Unit was established shortly thereafter.
The AGO 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 recommitment. 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.