Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Crime charges in WA courts at 12-year low; recidivism holds

by August 20th, 2013

Total cases filed by prosecutors in Washington state’s criminal courts reached a new low in 2012 compared to the 11 years prior, but the rate at which charged individuals released to the community experience “recidivism” – or being criminally charged again within three years – has continued to hold steady since 2001. It’s been about 50 percent for individuals with domestic violence or “DV” charges classified as current; and about 40 percent for those with older charges of DV or other crimes. The findings come in a new report from the government-funded Washington State Institute for Public Policy. The study explains that charges rather than convictions are used as a leading indicator of recidivism in the comparison groups because in instances of alleged domestic violence, victims often decide not to press the case even if the crime may very likely have occurred.

From Recidivism Trends of Domestic Violence Offenders in Washington State, WSIPP, Aug. 2013

A related WSIPP report issued earlier this year which surveyed the current scientific literature reaffirmed there is no lowering of DV recidivism rates resulting from state’s mandated emphasis on treating DV offenders through the so-called “Duluth model.” That approach accents the causative roles of gender, and social and historical constructs. WSIPP did find research showing that other practices which cut recidivism in the general offender population may also help Washington DV offenders avoid new charges, but that focused in-state tests are needed to better document potential.

Criminal charges at 12-year low
The new report starts out by accenting that total misdemeanor and felony criminal cases filed in Washington local and county courts numbered just 181,985 in 2012 – less than the 2001 low of 187,222 within the 12-year period covered. Nearly four-fifths, or 78 percent of the criminal cases filed in 2012 were misdemeanors, the rest felonies. That divide has held steady since at least 2001.

The per capita rate of non-domestic violence criminal cases filed per 1,000 residents has dropped from just under 35 in 2001 to just under 30 in 2011 while the rate of domestic violence cases filed has held relatively steady over that time at between seven and eight per 1,000.

DV offenders charged more often; and at higher risk for violence
Compared to those actually convicted of non-domestic violence felonies or misdemeanors, current or prior domestic violence offenders in the 2008 cohort were charged with crimes more than twice as often. By a factor of four they were more likely to have earned a high risk classification for violence, according to the WSIPP report.

2001 to 2008 recidivism trends in WA
Charge-based recidivism rates have held relatively steady since 2001. A graph in the report (below, left) shows that from 2001 through 2008 steadily half of individuals with a current DV charge have had some sort of criminal charge filed against them again with three years, versus more than 40 percent for those with older charges of DV or other crimes. When subsequent convictions within three years of a charge are used as the recidivism measure, the rates tend to drop six to eight points based on 2008 data in the WSIPP study.

Domestic violence is defined as “acts or threats of physical harm, sexual assault, or stalking by one household or family member against another…” Because it takes three years to assess whether a released offender will be charged again with a criminal offense, for the purpose of calculating recidivism rates, there is a lag in the data. The most recent year for which the rates are reported in the WSIPP study is 2008, which includes charges filed through 2011 against offenders released in 2008.

From Recidivism Trends of Domestic Violence Offenders in Washington State, WSIPP, Aug. 2013

“Duluth” treatments in WA ineffective
In a related study published in January of this year, WSIPP synthesized the literature of domestic violence or “DV” prevention and surveyed treatments used in other states. The institute reaffirmed earlier findings that Washington’s “Duluth model” for treatment – which emphasizes the crime category is “a gender-specific behavior which is socially and historically constructed” – has no effect on recidivism.

Other approaches show promise
The January 2013 WSIPP study did identify several other approaches to treating domestic violence that in earlier targeted studies cut DV recidivism by an average of one-third but the methods. These included relationship counseling, “cognitive behavioral therapy,” couples therapy and drug and alcohol treatment. Such approaches would have to be tested specifically in Washington State to assess impacts on DV recidivism, WSIPP cautioned.


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King County Jury Acquits Accused Hospital Rapist

by August 8th, 2013

A Seattle man charged in April of 2011 with raping a woman when they were both patients in the mental health unit of St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way was acquitted this August 1 more than two years later by a jury in King County Superior Court. The acquittal came within less than 24 hours after the three-week trial ended in the Kent courtroom of Judge Suzanne Parisien. When Eddie Lawrence Greadington, 50, was originally charged by King County prosecutors with second-degree rape, the story garnered coverage from local and regional newspapers, plus radio and TV. But though acquittals and other case developments in King County are trackable through free online public records, at this writing Greadington’s exoneration by a jury of his peers has gone otherwise unreported.

Both Had Been Under Duress
Additionally, publicly-available King County audio tapes of the trial reveal through in-session court comments by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Knightlinger the previously unreported details that both Greadington and the alleged victim separately before checking in to the unit had each attempted suicide. In Greadington’s case this was by trying to jump off a bridge. Knightlinger noted the alleged victim had “attempted to take her own life” and was “struggling with her sexuality, having loved a woman” but still feeling love for her husband. Knightlinger at the trial’s close argued Greadington saw the alleged victim “as someone he could prey on” and believed he could “show her what a real man was.”

County prosecutors in the April 2011 charging papers alleged Greadington had on April 25, the day after he was admitted, in a St. Francis mental health unit group therapy discussion room with no one else present, approached the alleged victim, a south King County resident now 40 years old. After making sexually-charged comments, they charged that he threatened to re-open a recent neck artery wound of hers if she did not come with him. He allegedly gripped her hair forcefully and compelled her to come to his private room’s attached bathroom, where the state alleged he anally raped her for five to seven minutes, causing anal bleeding.

Audio-taped Trial Proceedings Reveal Defendant’s Unreported Story
However at trial – particularly under cross-examination by Knightlinger on July 31 – Greadington related a very different version of events. He claimed that the alleged victim had in fact come on to him, exposing her right breast in the group therapy room, then made sexually-charged comments and went to his room, where, he said, she suddenly appeared naked from the waist down in his bathroom and asked him to perform anal intercourse on her, which he did.

Testifying in a voice often loud, angry and impassioned – which prompted repeated warnings from Judge Parisien not to yell – Greadington stressed to the prosecution and to the jury that although he was not even initially interested, the sex did occur but was strictly consensual. He emphasized that he would not lie in court.

Trial audio tapes show that under cross-examination by county prosecutor Knightlinger, Greadington took control and was able to shape his message to the jury very clearly. He concluded in part by stating, “I just an old country boy. I believe in God, and he will serve justice….I wouldn’t sit here in front of this courtroom and all you people and…try to come with something slick….I’m 50 years old and I don’t raise my kids like that. I’m not the greatest father, I can admit that. I’m not the greatest husband, I can admit that. But I ain’t never come in this courtroom and start being no liar….That woman (the alleged victim) didn’t tell you the truth.”

Defense: Burden of Proof Not Met
Greadington’s public defender Dan Pelka emphasized in his closing argument that the prosecution’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt “is a high standard” and had not been met. Not only was Greadington’s version of events credible, Pelka asserted, but the documented claim by the alleged victim that she had suffered rectal bleeding as a result of the anal sex was not corroborated by physical evidence; there was no blood on the underwear she put back on after the encounter and an anal swab by hospital staff revealed semen but not blood, Pelka told the jury, citing earlier testimony from hospital personnel.

Pelka added that what transpired was in fact a voluntary and consensual act between two people who were at their “lowest”. It wasn’t advisable, and prompted regrets, Pelka asserted, but it was consensual.

Public Data Ferret’s King County+Courts+Crime archive

The jury recessed to begin deliberations at 2:43 p.m. on July 31 and resumed at 9:08 a.m. the next morning. By 10:58 a.m. they had returned the verdict of not guilty, according to case records. The jury was not individually polled by the judge. Attempts to reach the foreman and the alleged victim were not successful. However, Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, said, “We felt that this was a case that needed to be heard by a jury. We found the victim’s statement credible. Although we disagree with the verdict, we respect the jury’s decision.”

According to court records, Greadington has prior criminal convictions for unlawful imprisonment, possession of stolen property in the first degree, attempting to elude police, assault in the fourth degree, taking a motor vehicle, theft in the third degree, and three more for criminal trespass in the first degree. The convictions span from 1984 to 2011. His profession is carpentry, according to trial proceedings. His last known address according to court records, is in the 4700 block of 32nd Ave. S. in Seattle.

The rape trial began 26 months after charges were filed. There were numerous continuances granted at the request of Greadington’s attorneys as they sought to prepare his case. At two points during the lead-up to trial, the alleged victim wrote brief notes to the judge, included in the case file, urging no further delays and a prompt start to the trial. The second such note, dated June 6 of this year, read, “this trial has been rescheduled several times. The defendant’s attorney has used every trick in the book. I would like to see some closer (sic) at this point. It has been over two years.” The trial did start the following month.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

WSDOT seeks “toll educational” consultant for $2.3M

by August 5th, 2013

The Washington State Department of Transportation is advertising for a contractor to conduct “statewide toll educational services” focused on the fourth of five Puget Sound highways currently designated for electronic tolling, I-405. The $2.3 million sought in “educational marketing” services will be for three years with up to two two-year renewals at an additional premium. Meanwhile, the state continues to explore a more sweeping “vehicle mileage tax” – with an update presented last week to the transportation commission outlining possible technologies and current study timelines.

U.S. report: global energy use to rise 56 percent by 2040

by July 30th, 2013

Fueled by growth in emerging economies led by China and India, global energy usage between 2010 and 2040 will jump 56 percent while carbon dioxide emissions from energy use will rise 46 percent, according to the “reference case” 2013 International Energy Outlook released in full today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Fossil fuels will continue to 2040 to provide almost four-fifths of global energy used, according to the outlook.

WA Court Denies Transpo Greens – But Inroads Unfolding

by July 25th, 2013

A Washington state appeals court in a ruling this week affirmed a King County judge’s 2011 dismissal of a suit by prominent environmental groups against the Puget Sound Regional Council transportation planning organization asserting it failed under state law to require adequate greenhouse gas reduction measures in its “Transportation 2040” plan approved in May, 2010. The plan – covered here shortly after its release by our Public Data Ferret accountability reporting project and then in a Ferret KOMO-AM 1000 radio segment – said to address a more-than-one-third hike in population and a 51 percent boost in regional jobs by 2040 – that $189 billion more would be needed to get Seattle-region roads and transit fairly close to right by then. That would include $64 billion in new monies not yet secured, about half in taxes and fees, and half tolls.

Forty-two percent of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 came from transportation versus 26 percent nationally, according to the state’s inventory published last December. “T2040” prescribed regional electronic tolling with higher charges at peak hours, and proposed some improvements to transit , biking and pedestrian infrastructure. It’s just a wish list from an advisory body with little real decision-making power but some important local and regional elected officials on its board. Political considerations still being calculated by state legislators are central. But tectonic shifts are underway in regional transportation policy, which may in the long run boost the green priorities sought by plaintiffs in the again-failed legal action.

Ethics board hits ex-DNR buyer with $7.5K fine

by July 22nd, 2013

A former vehicle parts buyer for the Washington Department of Natural Resources used his position to exchange special favors with suppliers and has agreed to pay a fine to a state oversight board of $7,500 for violating state ethics laws, according to an agreement he signed that was approved July 12. Longtime DNR employee Randy Sweet worked as a parts specialist for the state agency since 1991, in later years at the Tumwater compound just south of the Olympia Airport where he shared responsibilities for buying, billing and taking delivery of materials and parts used to keep running DNR’s boats, heavy equipment, cars and trucks. But during 2007 and 2008 he skirted purchasing guidelines meant to save taxpayer monies, to instead fatten the wallets of or to favor certain suppliers and was rewarded in return with cut rate deals on personal merchandise or other favors. This according to the findings of fact in the Washington Executive Ethics Board agreement, or “stipulation” document he signed to settle the case and which the board approved just 10 days ago.

A 2010 state audit which led to the ethics board probe noted two others at the facility were fired along with Sweet, one resigned, and eight more were reprimanded. The agency then said it put new safeguards in place. There were no criminal prosecutions. The ethics board is still investigating the role of two men above Sweet who may also face civil sanctions. The problems were first identified in a 2001 state audit.

King County DUI plea deal with Renton driver accents recent U.S. high court constraints on blood alcohol tests

by July 16th, 2013

Because of an April U.S. Supreme Court ruling normally barring consideration of blood alcohol tests done without search warrants, says a King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office official, a 20-year-old Renton woman who ran into a man in a wheelchair at a crosswalk and who had levels of alcohol and marijuana in her blood that exceeded legal limits, got off last Friday with misdemeanor convictions and related sentences rather than facing the original felony charges. On July 12 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas finalized a plea deal between the county and attorneys for defendant Emily Sue Falkenstein resulting in her conviction on misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence and reckless endangerment rather than the original felony charges of vehicular assault and felony reckless endangerment. That’s directly because prosecutors were unable to use blood tests taken shortly afterward due to the April high court ruling in the case of Missouri v. McNeely, said Ian Goodhew, Deputy Chief of Staff to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

Wedgwood man sentenced; sought sex with “girl,” 13

by July 12th, 2013

A 55-year-old lawn service owner from Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood this week in King County Superior Court pled guilty to a felony sex offense and was sentenced to nearly a year in jail. After police noticed his online post in the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist seeking sex with a mother and daughter, a detective responded, posing as the father of a 13-year-old girl “who wants to experience sex with older men.” A series of email exchanges ensued in which the age of the fictitious girl was underscored and the suspect made clear that he understood that, and wanted have regular, oral and anal sex with her. A meet-up was arranged at the Edgewater Hotel, 2411 Alaskan Way on Seattle’s downtown waterfront.