Monday, September 14, 2009

Civil Commitment Sought For Serial Rapist in WA

From Pacific Northwest Local News:

A serial rapist who preyed on women and girls in Oak Harbor during the early 1990s was scheduled to be released from prison Sept. 1 after serving 16 years. The state Attorney General’s Office, however, stepped in and had 37-year-old Paul Harell transported to the Island County jail. The office is attempting to have Harell deemed a “sexually violent predator” and civilly committed to the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.
What caught my eye about this particular effort is the contrast between the sentence and the list of rapes for which Harell got away with initially. This is the underlying problem which must be fixed so that we don't have to rely on the civil commitment process to provide the protection the public should have gotten through the criminal justice system.

The 13-page certification for probable cause, written by Baker, lays out the case against Harell. The document describes how he raped or sexually assaulted four women and two teenaged girls by the time he was 22-years-old. All but one of the victims were Oak Harbor residents.

Harell was convicted in Island County Superior Court in 1993 of rape in the first degree and two counts of second-degree rape with forcible compulsion. He was sentenced to 16 years and two months in prison.
Three of these assaults involved stalking and knife-facilitated attacks while his victims slept, but 2 of these assaults were against non-strangers: his own sister in 1988 (the earliest listed case) and his then girlfriend in 1992 (the same year as 2 break-in/rapes). The remaining case doesn't specify whether the victim knew Harell. So again this idea that non-stranger rape or more specifically date rape is totally unrelated to stranger rape is non-credible.

None of Harell's victims caused him to rape. It doesn't matter if something his victims did or said or wore allowed him to rationalize rape. It doesn't matter if that "something" matched cultural victim blaming narratives except if those narratives were used then those who support those narratives likely helped Harell in his rationalizations. They also likely helped explain why some of these rapes didn't end in conviction.

The only people who may not be at risk are boys and men and even that safety is questionable since a boy or man who tries to stop Harell during a sexual assault might be stabbed.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:49 AM   0 comments links to this post


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