State wants Pasco sex offender to remain behind bars for life

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldMay 16, 2014 

The state Attorney General's Office is fighting to keep a Franklin County sex offender behind bars.

Ronald Dale Love is on trial in Franklin County Superior Court because the 56-year-old Pasco man has asked to be released into the community.

However, state attorneys are trying to prove that Love -- even though he's completed his criminal sentence -- remains a danger and should be locked up for the rest of his life at the state's Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

Love was convicted in 1991 of attempting to rape another man near a Pasco apartment complex while the two were on a beer run. He has been in the south Puget Sound facility for 13 years, when the state first filed a petition alleging he is a sexually violent predator.

In 2005, Superior Court Judge Robert Swisher agreed and ordered Love held indefinitely.

This time, a jury will hear testimony and review the evidence before deciding if Love should go free or continue to be civilly committed.

The jury was being picked Friday afternoon, and the trial is expected to last two weeks. Swisher is presiding over the case.

Love has three sexually violent convictions since 1978 and has been behind bars almost all of his adult life.

In order to keep him at McNeil Island, lawyers from the Sexually Violent Predator Unit must prove he suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that causes trouble in controlling sexually violent behavior and make him likely to reoffend, according to a release from the Attorney General's Office.

The burden is on the state to prove the allegations. The attorneys will argue that Love meets the criteria, continues to pose a great risk to community safety and should stay at the Special Commitment Center, the release said.

That facility is operated by the state Department of Social and Health Services.

Love's attorneys are Bob Thompson of Kennewick and Peter Connick of Seattle.

In addition to his 1991 attempted rape conviction, Love's criminal history includes two rapes in 1978 in Modesto, Calif., and a burglary and assault. The rapes were just 30 minutes apart.

In 2005, psychologists testified that Love suffers from paraphilia, a psychosexual disorder characterized by sexual fantasies, feelings or activities involving a nonconsenting partner.

Love told the judge during that trial that he didn't have any convictions for sex crimes and described them as plea bargains. He also said at the time that sex offender treatment is "a joke" and he would never participate.

Love could be released from the program into community placement if he's found to be making improvements, but he would have to participate in an approved treatment program. With this trial, he's seeking to get out and have no conditions placed on him.

Washington became the first state to pass a law permitting the involuntary commitment of sex offenders once they have finished their prison sentences, but pose a threat to public safety without rigorous treatment. It is known as the Community Protection Act of 1990.

More than 300 offenders statewide are in the commitment program for meeting the legal definition of a sexually violent predator.

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