According to court documents, Chris was nine years old when he started molesting his younger siblings in the mid 1980s. Eventually he started molesting other children in the neighborhood, and even had sexual contact with one of the family dogs. The documents say that In 1995, at age 16, Chris was caught with a 12 year old neighbor boy who he'd pinned down; both boys were naked from the waist down and Chris had either penetrated the boy with his penis or had inserted it between the boys legs (records vary). By the time he was convicted, further questioning established that Chris had forced sexual contact on other children hundreds of times, including his younger siblings. He was sent to juvenile detention for two years, where he stayed until he was 18. He was released on parole.
Within a few months of his release, Chris checked himself into an inpatient mental health facility in Seattle for a psych evaluation. Court documents say that Chris kissed up to three other residents during his stay, and later asked staff repeatedly for contact information for one of the women. He started telling staff of his violent sexual fantasies about rape. The documents also say he disclosed fantasies about having sex with human organs and body parts, as well as fantasies about having sex with large sea and land mammals.
Given his history of forced sexual contact and the graphic and deviant nature of his fantasies, the hospital staff filed a petition to have Chris classified as an SVP. He was given a number of tests to measure the severity of his sexual deviance. One of these tests was a penile plethysmegraph (PPG) in which they wrapped a pressure-sensitive, plastic band around Chris's penis and measured his arousal to sexual visual and audio stimuli. He was also analyzed through an actuarial tool called the Static 99R which attempts to statistically predict a sex offender's chance of recidivism. Near the time of his commitment, one of the doctors analyzing Chris wrote this:
"Christopher clearly presents an extremely high risk of sexual assault of younger or vulnerable persons of either sex…Under no circumstances should he return to live with his family now or in the foreseeable future."
As a result, the SVP unit of the King County prosecutors' office drew up an SVP petition for Chris. This document would designate Chris as an SVP and send him to live indefinitely at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. However, Chris would be allowed to challenge his civil commitment in front of a jury of his peers. And when he did so, the burden of proof would be on the state to prove that Chris continued to meet SVP criteria.
Soon after he got to the island, Chris said he changed. Nearly immediately, he requested to take a "medication holiday" (see sidebar). According to documents written by his lawyers, soon after he stopped taking the medications, the most egregious fantasies dissipated. He describes being on the medications as being in a mental fog, as if he were drunk. He does not claim that his offenses were a result of being overly medicated, but he does believe his inhibition was lowered. By the second year of his commitment, Chris stopped attending group therapy with the other SCC residents. He says that by then he no longer experienced deviant fantasies, and that recounting his offenses week after week was not conducive to his recovery. We found no evidence that he's sexually assaulted anyone since arriving on the island.
In late 2016, per the stipulation he signed, Chris received a trial for his unconditional release. One of his attorneys, Andrew Morrison, contacted us to see if we were interested in attending the trial. We said "yes."
A month-long juried trial ensued. After a day of deliberation, the jury's verdict was unanimously against the State of Washington. They failed to prove that Chris continued to meet the definition of an SVP. On March 17th, 2016, Chris was released from the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. According to Andrew Morrison, Chris registered as a Level 2 sex offender shortly after his release, as was required of him.
The topic of recidivism for sex offenders is hotly contested, since sex crimes are often unreported and good data for long-term recidivism is sparse. However, some of the best numbers we have come from a report put together by the Office of Justice Programs. They reported that compared to other criminals, sex offenders are re-arrested at significantly lower rates. They also report that after three years after a sex offender's release, five percent were re-arrested a sexual crime. After 15 years, 24% were re-arrested for another sex crime.