Sheriff Nou on sex offender moving to San Juan: 'It's not a done deal'

Islanders take to the streets Friday Harbor on Tuesday to protest the move of a Level 3 sex offender to San Juan Island.   - Jane Fox
Islanders take to the streets Friday Harbor on Tuesday to protest the move of a Level 3 sex offender to San Juan Island.
— image credit: Jane Fox

San Juan County Sheriff Rob Nou Tuesday said that the jury is still out on whether a Level 3 sex offender will be allowed to move to San Juan Island.

Nou said two officers from the Oak Harbor headquarters of the state Department of Corrections were on the island Tuesday to further investigate the "facts and circumstances" surrounding the tentative move of convicted child rapist David Franklin Stewart to San Juan sometime around the end of March.

"At this point it's not a done deal," Nou told the County Council, which was expected Tuesday to put finishing touches on a letter asking Corrections to reconsider. "(The officers) are looking into new facts that evidently were not in their records and files when this decision was tentatively made."

Of note, Nou said, Stewart is required as part of his probation to participate in a certified sex offender treatment program. The county, he added, does not have such a program, facility or certified therapist, and that Stewart would have to travel on a ferry to and from Mount Vernon to satisfy that court-ordered requirement.

He also is required to be employed, Nou said.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen islanders -- armed with homemade signs -- gathered outside the county courthouse to protest Stewart's pending move. Earlier in the day, Dan DeShon, who lives near Stewart's prospective home, implored the county council to use whatever means it may have to help prevent the move.

DeShon, like Nou, noted Stewart would be traveling regularly on the ferry, and that the neighborhood in which he intends to live is heavily populated with children.

"This man is an absolute monster," he said. "I don't want him anywhere near my kids or on the island."

According to assessor records, Stewart, 58, and his wife purchased a home near Roche Harbor Resort in 2004, a year after he was convicted of first-degree rape of a child and then sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. He currently lives in the Sultan area and is in the first of three years under supervision by state Corrections.

The sheriff's department will host two community informational meetings March 15 regarding Stewart and his potential move to San Juan. The first begins at 4 p.m. at the Roche Harbor Resort Pavilion, followed by a meeting at the Mullis Community Senior Center, beginning at 6 p.m. Information about Stewart and DOC's decision will be provided and state and local law enforcement officials will be on hand to answer questions.

According to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Department sex-offender Web page, Stewart has admitted to a 30-year history of sexually assaulting boys and girls as young as 1-2 years of age, as well as teens. He failed to complete a sex offender program while in prison for lack of progress.

State Corrections designates sex offenders at one of three "levels". Those classified as Level 3 are considered "high risk" to re-offend.

Nou said the decision -- though tentative -- to allow Stewart to relocate to San Juan Island was made "a ways up the food chain" at DOC and "somewhat contrary" to recommendations by the its staff. He said the agency generally requires a sex offender to live in the county in which that person was convicted.

"I'm not sure in Olympia how in tune they are about the realities of island life and riding the ferries," Nou said.

He added there's been ongoing discussion between state and local law enforcement officials that date back to last year.

Information about sex offenders can be obtained on the sheriff's department Web page. The Web page has two areas that provide information regarding sex offenders, Offender Watch and Sex Offender Registration. You can sign up on the page to receive notice when an offender is released.



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