Jury: Lock sex predator up indefinitely

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WALLA WALLA — A Superior Court jury Thursday afternoon determined that a man convicted in the past of four sexually violent crimes should be locked up indefinitely as a sexually violent predator.

The eight-woman four-man panel in the civil commitment trial of Kenneth Longsdorff deliberated about three hours before reaching its verdict.

Testimony began Sept. 11.

In April 2009, the state Attorney General’s Office filed a petition asking that Longsdorff be declared a sex predator. Because of the jury’s finding that he is predator, Longsdorff will continue to be held at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island “for control, care and treatment” until his condition changes.

Longsdorff, now 62, pleaded guilty in 1993 in Walla Walla County to first-degree child molestation. He had sexual contact with a boy from about 1982-1990 when the child was 5-13 years old, according to a document filed in court by the AG’s Office.

In 1992, he was sentenced in Benton and Franklin counties for raping three boys in those jurisdictions during the latter part of the 1980s to early 1990s.

Longsdorff reportedly suffers from a mental abnormality causing “him to have serious difficulty controlling his dangerous behavior and makes him likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence unless confined to a secure facility,” the court petition says.

Longsdorff was scheduled to be released from the Washington State Penitentiary on April 27, 2009, after completing his latest criminal sentence. Instead, at the request of the AG’s Office, he was ordered detained without bail pending the outcome of the sex predator civil case.

At the trial that ended Thursday, experts testified about Longsdorff’s condition.

The state’s primary expert, clinical forensic psychologist Henry Richards, told the jury Longsdorff suffers from pedophilia — which makes him dangerous to be at large — in addition to other disorders. Richards said Longsdorff has admitted to hundreds of sex offenses involving young boys.

Robert Wheeler, also a clinical psychologist, said in a video deposition that Longsdorff acknowledged in a prison interview to “pairing up with women” whose children were young boys to facilitate the crimes.

Longsdorff told Wheeler he believed there was a 65 percent probability he would reoffend if he was released and “lobbied for commitment,” according to Wheeler’s testimony.

Wheeler classified Longsdorff as “mildly mentally retarded.” During the showing of Wheeler’s video testimony at the trial, Longsdorff occasionally protested aloud to his attorney, Robert Thompson of Pasco, who then would proceed to calm his client.

Corey McNally, a psychology associate at the commitment center, took the witness stand and said Longsdorff sought out treatment when he arrived in 2009 and was friendly and cooperative, although at times distracted.

But Longsdorff told McNally he would reoffend if he was released, according to McNally’s testimony. “(Longsdorff) wouldn’t trust himself in the community,” McNally said.

He acknowledged that Longsdorff apparently had improved in treatment based on certificates he received in 2011 and this year. McNally wasn’t involved with Longsdorff’s case at the time.

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

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