Molester gains release

Ronald Valentine, who molested a girl in 1995, has been locked up since 2010 on McNeil Island.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man who molested a child in Walla Walla County in 1995 and who has been civilly detained for nearly two years as a suspected sexually violent predator will be released Friday from the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

Officials have determined they no longer can prove Ronald Valentine, 63, is likely to reoffend by committing predatory acts of sexual violence.

Valentine was convicted by a Walla Walla jury in December 1995 of first-degree child molestation for having sexual contact with an 11-year-old girl he was babysitting three months earlier.

He was sentenced to 15 years on the criminal conviction and was about to be released from the Washington State Penitentiary in August 2010 when the state Attorney General's Office filed a civil commitment petition seeking to lock him up indefinitely as a sex predator.

Therefore, he was taken to the SCC to await a civil commitment trial that had been scheduled to begin earlier this month.

But the AG's office asked last week for dismissal of the petition because the state no longer can prove Valentine meets the legal definition of a sex predator.

Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann on Monday signed the dismissal order releasing Valentine from detention. The order is a dismissal "without prejudice," meaning the petition can be refiled if Valentine exhibits dangerous behavior.

Valentine's attorney, Robin Olson, said by email Tuesday that Valentine's release will be unconditional in regard to the civil commitment proceedings, but he will be subject to conditions of probation.

Malcolm Ross, senior counsel in the AG's office, clarified today Valentine will be supervised for two years on community placement related to his 1995 criminal conviction.

Valentine will be on a short leash, with conditions such as obeying all laws, reporting as directed, having no unsupervised contact with children, registering as a sex offender, participating in treatment and abstaining from drinking alcohol and the unlawful use of drugs.

He apparently intends to live in an apartment in the Tacoma area, Ross said.

The 2010 petition confining Valentine was based on a late-2008 evaluation by a state expert who later withdrew from the state contract and the case.

A new expert then interviewed Valentine, reviewed his file, and on April 9 of this year issued an opinion that Valentine doesn't meet the criteria for civil commitment.

While the expert "diagnoses Mr. Valentine as currently suffering from a mental abnormality and a personality disorder, he is unable to conclude that Mr. Valentine's risk (to reoffend) exceeds the 'more likely than not' standard required for civil commitment," according to the dismissal order presented by Ross and signed by Lohrmann.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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