February 26, 2009 in City

Jury says man must be confined

Sexual predator will go to McNeil Island
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane County jury has ruled that Donald T. Townsend is a sexually violent predator who should be confined indefinitely.

The 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.

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 Office of the Attorney General said Townsend is a pedophile with a mental abnormality and urges he can’t control, making it highly likely that he’ll commit another sex offense.

“We’re really pleased by the verdict,” said Todd Bowers, the assistant attorney general from Seattle in charge of the case. Bowers helped pick the jury and then had to leave Spokane when his wife went into labor. Assistant Attorney General James Buder took over the case.

In a deposition about a month before the trial began, Townsend said he was “still masturbating to sexual fantasies of his past victims,” Bowers said.

Tim Trageser, a Spokane attorney who specializes in civil commitment cases, represented Townsend. He 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 for something he may never do.

Jurors heard details about abuse committed by Townsend, including second-degree rape of a child in 1999, for which he was convicted in March 2000 in Spokane County Superior Court.

In that incident, Townsend was arrested after he was found trolling for sex with underage girls on the Internet. He agreed to meet 13-year-old “Amber,” not knowing he’d really contacted Spokane police Detective Jerry Keller, 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, found by a jury last year to be a rapist with a mental abnormality that makes it likely he’d offend again if set free.

Townsend will be offered treatment for his sexual deviancy, Bowers said.

Reach Karen Dorn Steele at (509) 459-5462 or karend@spokesman.com.

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