Violent predator trial set for sex offender who attacked young girls

ATTORNEY GENERAL NEWS RELEASE -- Benton County Superior Court Judge Carrie Runge set an October 2014 trial to determine whether convicted sex offender Stephen Robinson is a sexually violent predator.

Robinson, 56, was convicted of sexually violent offenses against young girls in Benton County in 1984 and again in Denver County, Colo. in 1999. He was scheduled for release from the Walla Walla Penitentiary on July 26, 2013, but was transported to the state's Special Commitment Center pending today's hearing.

The Attorney General's Office SVP Unit alleges Robinson suffers from specific mental abnormalties and/or personality disorders that cause him to have serious difficulty in controlling his dangerous behavior and make him like to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence unless confined to a secure facility, namely the state's Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

Robinson acknowledged to the state's evaluator having many additional victims and indicated to the evaluator he would continue to offend if released.

"The expert attorneys in my sexually violent predator unit work hard to protect children and communities from dangerous sexual predators using the state's civil commitment laws," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Robinson will now be detained at the state's Special Commitment Center until his October 2014 trial. At trial, either a judge or jury will decide whether or not he meets the SVP criteria. If the judge or jury determines he is a sexually violent predator, Robinson will be confined indefinitely at the Special Commitment Center.

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 law allows the state to civilly commit to a secure facility sexually violent predators who, because of a mental abnormality and/or personality disorder, are proven likely to commit predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined.

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 September 2013, approximately 293 sexually violent predators are civilly committed in Washington state.