Curtis Pouncy began sexually assaulting women at age 9, raped a long list of women and children after that and admitted that he was "intensely aroused" by sexual violence.
What constitutes a personality disorder?
Sick, right? You don't need a Ph.D. to know that. But the average Joe's understanding of sickness is not good enough when it comes to the state's controversial "civil commitment" law, which allows "sexually violent predators" to be locked up indefinitely, even after they've served the sentence for their crimes.
For that reason, the state Supreme Court ruled today that Pouncy must get a new trial to determine whether he should be committed. The ruling opens the door for the twice-married, onetime military man's release. Given his track record, that might give pause even to critics of civil commitment.
The ruling, penned by Justice Debra Stephens, overturned the verdict of Pouncy's 2006 commitment trial because jurors were not provided with a definition of what constitutes a "personality disorder." An offender must be found to have either a personality disorder or a "mental abnormality" in order to be judged a sexually violent predator, and jurors never said which criteria they were using for Pouncy, creating too much ambiguity for the state Supreme Court.
According to court documents filed by the King County Prosecutor's office, Pouncy began fondling girls when he 9. When he was 15, he participated in on a gang rape of an older teen.
He wasn't caught for years and seemed to live a normal life, marrying and joining the military. The cops caught up with him after he raped a 13-year-old to whom he offered a ride, then slammed her head against a car door, made as if to choke her and penetrated her both anally and vaginally. Released pending charges, he raped a 19-year-old at knifepoint. While awaiting sentencing, he tried to rape yet another woman, sneaking into her house and jumping on top of her before she fought him off.
Yet, Pouncy came to be considered a model of reform while incarcerated at the Monroe Correctional Complex, where he underwent treatment. "He was given glowing reviews," according to court documents filed by the King County Prosecutor's office. As a result, he was granted parole in 1996, whereupon he went to live with a new wife on Vashon Island.
But again, he started attacking women, including a friend of his wife, and was sent back to jail.
Despite today's ruling, Pouncy will continue to be held at the state Department of Social and Health Service's Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, pending the outcome of a new trial, according to DSHS spokesperson Jim Stevenson.
And this time around, jurors will have the benefit of a definition of personality disorder since written by the Legislature. Then again, the definition--essentially "behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture"-- probably won't tell jurors anything they don't already know.