Grays Harbor sex offender release blocked; will be civilly committed

Grays Harbor Superior Court Judge Stephen Brown has found probable cause to civilly commit a sex offender after the Washington Attorney General’s Office filed a petition to prevent his release to the community.

58-year-old Gary Lee Clark was convicted of second-degree rape with forcible compulsion, first-degree rape, and residential burglary with sexual motivation. 

Clark was due to be released from confinement on September 7, 2020, 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 Stephen 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.

Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator law allows the state Attorney General’s Office to petition for the civil commitment of violent sex offenders who, because of a mental abnormality and/or personality disorder, are proven likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if released.

The civil commitment petition consists of allegations that have not yet been proven in a court of law. The State of Washington has the burden to prove the 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 AGO SVP unit is responsible for prosecuting sex predator cases for 38 of Washington’s 39 counties (King County being the exception).

As of May 2020, 238 sexually violent predators are in the state’s Special Commitment Program.