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'Denied': state Corrections rejects Level 3 sex offender's request to move to San Juan Island

Islanders take to the streets Tuesday to demonstrate against allowing a Level 3 sex offender to live on San Juan Island.  - Scott Rasmussen
Islanders take to the streets Tuesday to demonstrate against allowing a Level 3 sex offender to live on San Juan Island.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

Turns out that a Level 3 sex offender will not be allowed to move to San Juan Island after all. 

According to Rob Diekman, a state Corrections officer based in Oak Harbor, David Franklin Stewart's request to move to the island, where the 58-year-old convicted child rapist and wife own a home, has been denied by the Corrections officials in Olympia. 

Diekman told the Journal Wednesday morning that Corrections area supervisor Greg Freeman will issue a press release later in the day in which the reasons for the department's denial of Stewart's request would be detailed. 

The official rejection of Stewart's request comes less than 24 hours after the San Juan County Sheriff's department hosted a pair of sex offender "notification" meetings, and in which Freeman said to a standing-room-only crowd at the senior center in Friday Harbor that he was "99 percent" certain that the petition would be denied in Olympia.

Following a recent investigation, Freeman said he and Diekman again had recommended to Olympia that Stewart's request be denied. 

Still, that sliver of a doubt that loomed large with many in the crowd.  

A neighbor of the Stewart home, Courtney Smith noted that the final decision on Stewart's request would be determined by Community Corrections Deputy Secretary Anmarie Aylward, who, following a visit Tuesday to the island, in which she met with members of the County Council, had left prior to the sheriff's notification meetings. 

"It's that 1 percent that's worrying me," Smith said. "And she's not here." 

With the help of several neighbors, Smith and her counterparts spearheaded what amounts to a full-court press of information gathering that exposed in part the vulnerability that the many families of the Bridal Trails neighborhood would have against a loosely guarded Level 3 sex offender. 

Without an office in San Juan County, Corrections supervises its felons through its Oak Harbor office and with assistance of the county sheriff's department. Level 3 offenders, such as Stewart, are considered a "high risk" to reoffend.  

Stewart, convicted in 2003, currently lives in the Sultan area. He will be under supervision of state Corrections for the next 22 months.  

The information provided to the two Corrections officials during their most recent investigation includes a plot map identifying the homes of families with children and their proximity to the Stewart property, highlights the neighborhood's many forested trails, school bus stops and its two day-care facilities, and displays the close proximity of the Stewart home to Roche Harbor Resort, which may host as many as 40,000 guests at the height of the summer season.    

Freeman said information provided by the neighborhood group helped to underscore and "better articulate" the reasons why he and Diekman has recommended against allowing Stewart to move to the island.  

 

 

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