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Serial child molester returns to prison

A 61-year-old child molester who was wanted on a warrant out of Island County Superior Court for more than 30 years finally faced justice Monday.

Judge Vickie Churchill revoked the deferred sentence William Minish received in a 1978 plea bargain and sent him to prison for 10 years.

“There was a warrant out for his arrest since 1978 and it actually worked,” Chief Criminal Prosecutor Colleen Kenimond said, sounding a little surprised.

Minish, a former Langley resident, was charged in 1978 with raping an 8-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to a lesser offense as part of a plea bargain. The prosecution and defense recommended that Minish receive a 10-year sentence, but that it be deferred as long as he completed a “sexual psychopathy treatment program,” court documents indicate. The late Judge Howard Patrick agreed.

But Minish absconded when he was supposed to surrender himself at the Island County jail to be sent to a state hospital for evaluation. Patrick authorized a $100,000 bench warrant for Minish’s arrest on Sept. 14, 1978.

Court documents indicate that Minish has been accused of molesting at least six different girls in the 1970s and 1980s. Minish’s criminal record for molesting young girls began before he moved to Langley.

In Massachusetts, he was charged with indecent assault and battery of a child under 14, open and gross ludeness and unnatural acts on a child under 16, according to Kenimond. Under a plea bargain, he was sentenced to two years and six months in prison, but the sentence was suspended in lieu of sex offender treatment. He was then allowed to move to Langley in the mid-1970s.

After leaving Whidbey Island in 1978, Minish moved to Oregon and changed his name to Gary Bates. Kenimond said he continued to sexually abuse young girls. In 1984, he was accused of sexually assaulting four more girls, ages 5, 7, 9 and 10. He ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of sodomy and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, though Kenimond said his sentence was extended over the years.

When Minish, AKA Bates, was finally released from an Oregon prison last year, prison officials realized there was still a warrant for his arrest in Island County. He was transfered to Island County and, on Dec. 3, Judge Churchill set his bail at $250,000.

Minish’s attorney, Darrin Hall of Coupeville, said he could find no legal basis to argue that his client shouldn’t receive the 10-year sentence.

But Minish did write a letter to Churchill pleading for mercy and leniency. He wrote that he isn’t the same person he was 31 years ago and that ten years in prison would be a death sentence, given his poor health.

“I’ve lost everything, family, possessions, freedom, everything,” he wrote. “Due to my own bad decisions I’ve lost more than my victims ever did.”

Kenimond indicated that the letter probably didn’t help his case.

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