Civil commitment trial opens for Spokane molester
Man admitted to molesting 24 girls between the ages of 3 and 7
By his own accounting, Ronald Reo Timm molested 24 little girls in Spokane.
The crimes took place decades ago, and Timm, 60, has spent 13 years behind bars after being convicted of first-degree rape of a child.
But a state prosecutor — in making a case Monday to keep Timm locked up for the rest of his life — said the convicted sex offender failed a rehabilitation treatment seven times.
“Ronald Timm is a man who betrays people’s trust to do what he wants. And what he wants is to fondle little girls,” Assistant Attorney General James Buder said. “He is mentally ill and he’s dangerous.”
Timm shook his head in disagreement several times as Buder told jurors why they should declare Timm a sexually violent predator who is likely to re-offend if not kept in a secure state facility.
Timm, who grew up on a 2,700-acre wheat farm in Lincoln County, was convicted in 1989 of attempted statutory rape in the first degree. But his 36-month prison sentence was suspended because he opted to go through the alternative program designed to rehabilitate sex offenders.
After the rape conviction, Timm’s 2006 release was put off when the state Attorney General’s Office served notice that it intended to seek a civil commitment against Timm that essentially would keep him in a secure facility for life — just as it did with South Hill rapist Kevin Coe.
Timm’s attorney, Tim Trageser, acknowledged most of Timm’s past when he provided his opening statement before Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque.
“I’m not asking anyone to pretend to like Mr. Timm. But some of this evidence is 20 … or 15 years old,” Trageser said. “You have to consider that evidence to evaluate whether Mr. Timm is currently a threat to the community. I suppose it’s akin to finding someone is currently depressed based on 20-year-old information.”
Trageser said the bulk of the state’s case was built on interviews Timm gave while seeking sex offender treatment in prison.
“What treatment does is it helps people understand why they are offending. You have to be particularly candid or the treatment is a waste of time,” Trageser said. “Now he’s before you subject to a civil commitment case.”
Just like previous civil commitment cases, including Coe’s, the state must show that Timm has a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes him more likely than not to re-offend if released from prison.
The trial, which will include testimony from now-retired Spokane Police sex crimes detective Jerry Keller, is expected to continue into next week.
Buder told the jury that the civil commitment is necessary because Timm couldn’t take advantage of the counseling efforts.
“He admitted he couldn’t control his urges for children and that distressed him,” Buder said. “He continues to pursue children to satisfy his sexual pleasures.”