Sexual assault charges against 83-year old Richland man dropped

Charges were dismissed against an 83-year-old Richland man accused of sexually assaulting two young girls at a playground after a judge found he was incompetent to stand trial.

Fedor Filipovich Sinyuk was diagnosed in 2002 with dementia, and doctors at Eastern State Hospital determined he was incapable of assisting in his own defense.

But, Sinyuk also was found to be a "substantial danger" to others and presented a "substantial likelihood of committing criminal acts jeopardizing public safety or security."

Sinyuk, who was charged with first-degree child molestation and communication with a minor for immoral purposes, appeared this week in Benton County Superior Court.

An interpreter was allowed to appear by phone to interpret for Sinyuk, who speaks Ukrainian.

Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra asked Judge Vic VanderSchoor to send Sinyuk back to the state psychiatric hospital at Medical Lake to begin the process for a civil commitment.

VanderSchoor agreed that Sinyuk should return to Eastern State Hospital for another evaluation, over the objections of defense attorney Brian Roach.

Sinyuk, who is not in jail, has 30 days to report to Eastern State.

Roach didn't object to the dismissal, but said Sinyuk shouldn't have to go back to Eastern State.

He said the law requires an evaluation by a designated mental health professional, which could be done at Lourdes Counseling Center or the Crisis Response Unit in the Tri-Cities.

"To me, I just don't understand why he has to go to Eastern State when it can be done here," Roach said. "Let's keep him local."

Petra said Nathan Henry, a licensed psychologist at Eastern State Hospital, recommended Sinyuk be evaluated at Eastern State because of the nature of the allegations against Sinyuk and his previous behavior at the hospital.

Officials at Eastern State Hospital expressed concerns about Sinyuk's propensity toward sexually inappropriate behavior and risk to vulnerable people he may have access to, documents said.

While at the hospital, staff said, Sinyuk reportedly was seen "putting his hand on the thigh of a female patient and placing a female patient's hand in his crotch area," documents said.

He also reportedly was seen following and placing his hands on female patients, particularly those considered highly vulnerable, documents said.

Sinyuk was arrested in 2010 by Richland police after two girls reported having contact with Sinyuk while at the playground behind All Saints' Episcopal Church.

One girl, who was 8, said they didn't know Sinyuk but when he motioned to them to sit next to him on a bench they did, documents said.

The girls got on his lap when he gestured for her to do that and that's when he allegedly exposed himself, the girl said. The second girl, who was 7, said she didn't remember if he exposed himself.

When the younger girl tried to get off his lap, he reportedly held onto her and would not let her go, documents said.

Roach initially had Sinyuk evaluated by Dr. Philip Barnard in November 2010, who determined Sinyuk had dementia and exhibited significant problems with "problem-solving, attention, concentration and memory," documents said.

Barnard said Sinyuk was not capable of learning and retaining new information.

Sinyuk then was sent to Eastern State in March 2011. His son told Henry that Sinyuk had been hit by a car while riding his bike five years earlier and his memory started deteriorating after that, documents said.

He said his father appeared confused "quite often," would scream at night while sleeping and had difficulty distinguishing dreams from reality, documents said.

Henry conducted a series of tests but said it was difficult to render a conclusion on Sinyuk's mental capabilities because it didn't appear Sinyuk was "putting forth adequate effort," documents said.

Sinyuk apparently responded, "I don't know," repeatedly when asked questions about the charges, the court process and other competency questions.

After a hearing in November 2011, Sinyuk was ordered back to Eastern State to see if doctors could restore his competency.

He began 90 days of treatment in March, which led to Henry's last report May 31 that determined Sinyuk should be evaluated for a civil commitment for state treatment.