News

'Predator' status sought to keep rapist in prison

Convicted rapist Donald Herrick appeared in Island County Superior Court Thursday. The state Attorney General’s Office is proceeding with a civil commitment process to have him confined for mental health treatment.  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Convicted rapist Donald Herrick appeared in Island County Superior Court Thursday. The state Attorney General’s Office is proceeding with a civil commitment process to have him confined for mental health treatment.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

The state Attorney General’s Office is attempting to have a man who committed a home-invasion rape on South Whidbey 13 years ago classified as a “sexually violent predator” and confined indefinitely to the McNeil Island special commitment center.

Donald Herrick, a 35-year-old King County resident, appeared in Island County Superior Court Thursday for a probable cause hearing in the civil commitment process. No arguments were heard and the hearing was rescheduled for January.

Herrick has completed his sentence and would normally be released to the community. But a provision in state law allows a judge or jury to determine whether a sex offender meets the definition of a sexually violent predator and should be placed against his or her will in a secure facility for control and treatment.

Under law, a sexually violent predator is defined as someone who has committed a sex offense and “suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility.”

The state Attorney General’s Office has a special unit designated to deal with such civil commitment proceedings. A certificate for determination of probable cause written by Assistant Attorney General Malcolm Ross outlines the case against Herrick.

Herrick was convicted in Island County Superior Court of first-degree rape in 1997. He and a friend broke into a home in Scatchet Head on April 24, 1997, in an attempt to steal marijuana plants they thought were growing there.

Herrick discovered a woman, a stranger to him, asleep in her bed. He raped her and savagely beat her until she lost consciousness. As a result of the injuries, the woman lost most of the hearing in one hear and suffered nerve damage in her left cheek.

A judge sentenced him to 10 years and five months in prison.

Herrick got out of prison in September of 2006. Three months later, Herrick met a 16-year-old Shoreline girl on a bus and followed her home. The girl’s father caught Herrick peeking in the window as his daughter was undressing to take a shower; the father said Herrick was trying to remove the window screen, Ross wrote in the certification of probable cause.

Herrick pleaded guilty to one count of voyeurism in King County Superior Court and was sentenced to 22 months in prison.

In June of this year, Herrick was sentenced to jail for three months for violating the conditions of his release by stalking a woman, the court documents state.

In that case, a woman reported that on two occasions Herrick had watched her at the Auburn Public Library and then followed her around the city when she left. She claimed Herrick peeked at her through the stacks and masturbated. When she drove away, he followed her in a car. She went to a store and called police, Ross wrote.

The state’s expert, Dr. Brian Judd, conducted a civil commitment clinical evaluation and concluded that Herrick suffers from mental abnormalities and a personality disorder that makes him likely to commit a predatory, sexually violent crime. Herrick underwent physiological testing.

Court documents state that the expert concluded that Herrick is a psychopath, which is associated with “a significantly higher risk for violent and antisocial recidivism.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 30 edition online now. Browse the archives.