A Richland rapist who’s been locked up for 15 years in a state psychiatric hospital has been given permission to walk around the Medical Lake campus by himself.
This isn’t the first time that Kevin E. Forsythe has been given freedom to roam Eastern State Hospital grounds without an employee present.
But after previously losing those privileges because of concerns for public safety, a recent staff review found he remains stable and does not pose a substantial danger to other people or to committing criminal acts.
Forsythe, now 43, was sent to the state facility based on his acquittal by reason of insanity in a 1995 rape case.
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He has had no recent behavioral issues, is compliant with his medications and is proactive in his mental health treatment, according to an agreement between Richland attorney Alan J. Tindell and Emily Sullivan, a Benton County deputy prosecutor.
The order, granted April 7, gives Forsythe grounds privileges only, meaning he is restricted to the campus and is not allowed furloughs into the community. However, it is a step in helping him reintegrate into the community.
He can be held (in Eastern State Hospital) up to the remainder of his life if he doesn’t improve. If he had been convicted of the crime and gone to (the Washington State Penitentiary in) Walla Walla, he might have been a free man by now.
Attorney Alan J. Tindell
Superior Court Judge Bruce Spanner signed off on the “partial conditional release,” but questioned how Forsythe could have improved only six months since his msot recent negative review.
Spanner questioned if Eastern State Hospital “is a secured facility with fences and walls, so even if he goes out onto the grounds, we don’t have to worry about him escaping?”
Tindell said he believed that the campus is surrounded by fences and walls, but added that unless his client is at a “Supermax, there probably is no facility in the world that is escape-proof.”
Coincidentally, Forsythe’s increased freedom comes the same week during which three patients escaped from Western State Hospital in Lakewood. Two, including one who was charged with stabbing a woman 24 times and then slashing her throat, were captured in the following days. The third is on the loose.
Eastern State Hospital medical staff and a risk review board supported Forsythe’s limited release.
I have a longstanding sleep deprivation because I can’t fully allow myself to relax. I can’t fully get back to where I was.
The victim, who was in her early 40s when she was raped inside her Richland home in 1995, also agreed with the request.
“He should have some fresh air and exercise, and give him the right to enjoy the grounds up there. It will do him good,” the woman told Spanner at a recent hearing.
The Benton County Prosecutor’s Office has kept her updated on the case, including any time there is correspondence from the facility or a petition from Forsythe.
Forsythe was at Lourdes Counseling Center in Richland in October 2000 when he called Richland police to confess to a rape he committed five years earlier, according to Herald archives and court documents.
Then 28, Forsythe gave officers details of a crime that matched an unsolved case.
During his interview, Forsythe told police “the government was putting drugs into him at the time and he decided if they were after him, he would rape someone and see if they could catch him.”
The victim had reported a man knocking on her door about 2 a.m. and asking to use the phone. She reportedly let him in the house and he dialed a number before trying to kiss her.
When she resisted, the stranger put her in a headlock and eventually raped her.
Forsythe was charged with second-degree rape, but the case quickly was put on hold on telling a judge he didn’t understand his legal rights.
He spent six months in Eastern State Hospital for competency restoration. He was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder — also known as manic depression — with psychotic features.
A judge later ruled that Forsythe was not guilty by reason of insanity based on a defense motion, and he was admitted to the facility’s Forensic Services Unit in June 2001.
Though Forsythe is in the custody of the state Department of Social and Health Services, he remains under the control of the court. Any changes in conditions must be approved by a judge.
State law requires a progress report every six months.
“He can be held (in Eastern State Hospital) up to the remainder of his life if he doesn’t improve,” said Tindell, who was not involved with the case 15 years ago. “If he had been convicted of the crime and gone to (the Washington State Penitentiary in) Walla Walla, he might have been a free man by now.”
The victim told the court in person and in a 13-page document that as Forsythe was violently attacking her, she believed it was her last moments on Earth. It permanently changed her life.
“I have a longstanding sleep deprivation because I can’t fully allow myself to relax. I can’t fully get back to where I was,” she said.
The woman believes the state has been comforting and coddling a dangerous criminal, and it would be easy for Forsythe to revert to his old ways because of the evil that resides in his brain, she said.
“I am still gravely reserved that this type of insanity, as it’s classified, can ever be truly cured,” she said.
Spanner said he understands the woman’s frustration that the focus now is on Forsythe, and not the victim, because of his mental defect and substantial likelihood that he is a threat to others.