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Jury: Man is a sexually violent predator

A Spokane County jury has ruled that Donald T. Townsend is a sexually violent predator who should be confined indefinitely in a state institution for sex offenders.

The eight-man, four-woman jury delivered its verdict Wednesday morning in the courtroom of Spokane County Superior Court Judge Jerome J. Leveque, who presided over Townsend’s civil commitment trial. The jury got the case late Tuesday and deliberated only a few hours before reaching a verdict.

Townsend, 35, has a lengthy history of sexually abusing children, according to court documents and trial testimony.

In its 2005 civil commitment petition, the Washington Attorney General’s Office said he’s a pedophile with a mental abnormality and out-of-control urges – making it highly likely that he’ll commit another sex offense.

His defense attorney argued that Townsend was a victim of sexual abuse by his older brother and – despite his criminal acts – doesn’t have a mental condition that justifies civil commitment.

Jurors heard explicit details about Townsend’s acts, including molesting his 7-year-old cousin and her 9-year-old brother in Oregon in 1988; molesting a half-brother; repeatedly molesting an 8-year-old girl he was babysitting in 1991; and his March 2000 conviction in Spokane County Superior Court for second-degree rape of a child.

In that incident, Townsend was arrested after he was found trolling for sex with underage girls on the Internet. He agreed to meet “Amber,” a 13-year-old, not knowing that Spokane Police Det. Jerry Keller was posing as Amber. After Townsend’s arrest, child pornography was found on his computer.

Townsend will be sent to the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, joining other convicted sex offenders, including “South Hill rapist” Kevin Coe, declared last year by a Spokane jury after a high-profile trial to be a rapist with a mental abnormality that makes it likely he’ll offend again if allowed to be free.

Reach Karen Dorn Steele at 459-5462 or