A state Court of Appeals reversed a jury’s decision to keep a former Oak Harbor man civilly committed as a “sexually violent predator,” finding that an expert witness introduced racial bias in his testimony.
In August, a jury in Island County Superior Court will once again hear evidence and decide whether 50-year-old Curtis Brogi should be freed or continue to be held at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.
The state Attorney General’s Office is opposing Brogi’s petition to be released, arguing that he still meets the statutory definition of a sexual violent predator.
In 2000, Brogi became the first person in Island County to be civilly committed under the state’s Sexually Violent Predator Act.
Brogi committed “numerous acts of sadistic sexual violence against young girls and women” during the 1980s and 1990s, mostly on Whidbey Island, according to the Attorney General’s Office brief on the case.
Brogi petitioned the court in 2015 to be released from McNeil Island to a “less-restrictive alternative,” specifically his parents’ house on North Whidbey.
In a trial the following year, a jury found that his proposed plan for living n Whidbey would not adequately protect the community, so the judge denied his conditional release.
Brogi appealed the decision. The Court of Appeals found that Dr. Harry Goldberg, the psychologist who testified for the state, introduced racial bias and denied Brogi his constitutional due process rights.
Brogi has Native American ancestry and has been active with Native American religious and cultural activities. Goldberg testified that Native Americans sex offenders are more likely to reoffend, a statement that may have given credence to jurors’ latent racist ideas, the Appeals Court ruled.
Now Brogi is asking to be released without any conditions. His expert witness concluded that Brogi made such progress in treatment that he no longer meets the criteria of being a sexually violent predator.
The Attorney General’s Office opposes his petition once again. The state’s new psychologist found that Brogi suffers from sexual sadism and an antisocial personality disorder, has difficulty controlling his sexually violent behavior and is more likely than not to commit another crime of predatory sexual violent, according to court documents.
Court documents describe a long list of sex crimes that Brogi was accused of committing; in some cases he was charged with a crime and in others he wasn’t.
The allegations described in court reports are that Brogi raped a 16-year-old girl for two hours at knifepoint; he and a roommate repeatedly raped a 15-year-old girl; he anally raped a 17-year-old girl in a van and made her bark like a dog; he raped a 15-year-old girl while holding a knife to her throat; he molested a 4-year-old girl; he anally raped a girlfriend and then forced her to perform oral sex; he pulled a gun and a knife on a woman he met at a camp site, forced her to undress, beat her, raped her and photographed the abuse; he lured a woman to his parents’ home under the pretext of a job interview, pointed a gun at her, tied her to a bed and molested her, according to court documents.
Brogi’s ex-wife previously testified that he repeatedly raped her, sodomized her with objects and assaulted her. She said he forced her to perform oral sex after anal sex and often insisted that she dress like a child during sex. He raped her when she was pregnant and her doctor told her not to have sex; she ended up having an emergency C-section, court documents state.
In most cases, Brogi denied committing the crimes described in the reports and downplayed the others, often describing them as “rough sex.”
Brogi’s expert witness, licensed psychologist Paul Spizman, disagreed with the state’s expert that Brogi suffers from sexual sadism and a personality disorder.
“There certainly does not appear to be a clear pattern of sexual sadistic behavior,” he wrote.
Spizman writes that Brogi has made positive efforts in treatment participation and no longer meets the requirements under the law for civil commitment.
Spizman estimated that the likelihood Brogi will reoffend is 15-20 percent over five years. The state’s expert puts the risk level at 32 percent in 10 years.