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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jury to decide if serial rapist should be committed to McNeil Island after he broke court rules by having consensual sex

This aerial photo shows the Spokane County Courthouse on Oct. 26, 2013, in front of the Public Safety Building and the Spokane County Jail. Spokane police say an intern in the city prosecutor’s office was assaulted Tuesday morning in a women’s restroom in the Public Safety Building. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A convicted rapist who broke the rules of his prison release by having a consensual sexual relationship with a woman he’d met at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings could spend the rest of his life in custody. Or he could go free. It’s up to a Spokane jury.

Prosecutors say Terrance Laramie, 54, is dangerous, suffering from an anti-social personality disorder that makes him likely to attack again. He has four rape-related convictions, including those from decades ago when he raped a 15-year-old girl while holding a fork to her neck; and another case when he raped a 17-year-old girl he found walking home from school.

But his attorney, Marla Polin, called Laramie a changed man. Armed with a favorable diagnosis from the same psychologist used by the state to commit South Hill rapist Kevin Coe as a sexually violent predator, she said Laramie’s crimes ended in 2009 once he became sober.

“All of his sex offenses were committed when he was intoxicated,” Polin said. “This is the first time he’s had a sober relationship.”

Laramie’s trial is the first case in Spokane County where a person has sought what amounts to a legal redo as a sexually violent predator.

His criminal history started when he was 16. In 1979, he forced a 15-year-old girl to have sex with him as he held a fork to her neck. Two years later, Laramie found a 17-year-old girl walking home from school and offered her a ride. He drove her to a party in State Line, Idaho, and forced her onto a hotel bed, choked her and threatened to kill her before raping her.

Then in 1982, he gave a ride to a different 17-year-old girl and her brother. He drove them to a remote area north of Spokane and attempted to rape the girl until the brother was able to force him off of her.

The case that began his current legal problems happened in October 2005 in Ferry County. In that case, Laramie forced his girlfriend onto the floor where he pinned her with his legs as he injected methamphetamine into her arm. The girlfriend tried in vain to struggle free before Laramie raped her, according to court records.

He was again convicted of rape and imprisoned for five years. At the end of his sentence, the state began the process to civilly commit him as a sexually violent predator.

Instead, Laramie struck a deal: He would admit to being a sexually violent predator in exchange for what’s known as the least-restrictive alternative – allowing Laramie to live in a halfway house in Seattle under a strict set of rules and treatment programs designed to address his problems. According to court testimony, his treatment began to work within a couple of years.

During this time, Laramie attended AA meetings where he met a woman about his age. Polin, the defense attorney, told jurors how Laramie followed the rules by letting officers overseeing his prison release know about his woman friend and even asking them if it would be OK to meet with her outside of AA meetings.

“He’s trying to conform to his restrictions, but he’s being stonewalled,” she said. “He really wants to have this relationship while he’s under supervision.”

But a corrections officer visiting the halfway house encountered Laramie leaving early one morning with the girlfriend. After that discovery, Laramie eventually admitted having consensual sex with the woman, who knew of his criminal past.

They remain close, and she testified on his behalf and attended the closing arguments on Tuesday to support Laramie.

But the relationship prompted state officials to revoke his least-restrictive alternative and send him back to the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center. Then in 2015, during a normal review of his case, psychologist Elizabeth Bain decided that Laramie’s situation had improved to the point that the state no longer had a legal basis to hold him.

Laramie petitioned the state for the trial that will allow him to either walk free or head back to McNeil Island, where the state houses its worst sex offenders, including Coe.

As a result of Laramie’s petition, attorneys presented several weeks of testimony and asked the jury to decide whether the state needs to continue to keep Laramie confined for his past crimes, or reward him with freedom for the changed man the defense argued he has become.

“Mr. Laramie is given an opportunity to display behavior that displays he’s changed,” said Thomas Howe, the assistant attorney general prosecuting the case. “But he shows the same problems that he has been showing his entire life.”