The Washington Attorney General’s Office filed a petition last week in Grays Harbor County Superior Court seeking to civilly commit a sex offender and prevent his release into the community.

David Hunter, 44, was convicted of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration and first-degree sexual abuse in Multnomah County, Ore., in 1995. These crimes are comparable to Washington’s first-degree rape of a child and second-degree child molestation.

Hunter has also been convicted of third-degree assault with sexual motivation and failure to register as a sex offender in Grays Harbor County in 2013. The state is alleging that these last offenses are recent overt acts. Hunter also has a 1992 conviction for two counts of first-degree sodomy out of Multnomah County Juvenile Court and a 2009 first-degree attempted sexual abuse in Deschutes County, Ore.

David Hunter was due to be released on May 15, 2018, but the Attorney General’s Office petitioned to have him committed, alleging that he is mentally ill and sexually dangerous. On Friday, a judge found probable cause to believe Hunter is a sexually violent predator, a preliminary ruling which 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 2018, 266 sexually violent predators are in the state’s Special Commitment Program.

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