Friday Harbor with its cheap moped rentals, expensive yachts, and Free Willy, is apparently too cute and quaint to house one of Washington's most recent house-hunting sex criminals. "No!" they shout. "Not in our town!" So where then should the state place Mr. David Franklin Stewart, child rapist extraordinaire? In Seattle? Tacoma? Olympia? Oh, wait, those cities have hundreds of sex offenders already--around twice as many per capita as Friday Harbor.
Besieging the San Juan County Courthouse with protests and hiring a lawyer to try and convince the state Department of Corrections to send Stewart elsewhere, the town has been tearing itself apart over news that a pervert might be joining its whale-watching ranks.
Friday Harbor residents forget that they already have two registered sex offenders living in their midst. Kyle Darien Gutierrez lives on Carter Avenue and is a level-two offender convicted of indecent liberties. And Jesse McCutcheon, a level-two offender, lives on University Road and was convicted of the same thing as Stewart: rape of a child.
Somehow I don't recall the same outrage when they moved in.
Secondly, and more to the point, as creepy as those two are, the town has far less than its share of pervs compared to larger cities in Washington. And even among small towns, Friday Harbor is about average, with .09 percent of the population registered as a sex offender. The difference being that Omak, Wash., is not marching in the streets over its 18th offender moving in.
Here are some numbers:
2 sex offenders = .09 percent of population
922 sex offenders =.15 percent of population
368 sex offenders =.18 percent of population
297 sex offenders =.14 percent of population
228 sex offenders =.49 percent of population (holy crap)
8 sex offenders =.04 percent of population
6 sex offenders =.09 percent of population
17 sex offenders =.38 percent of population
3 sex offenders =.08 percent of population
The point is: Every city has to house its share of freed sex offenders. Thousands get out of prison each year. Many can't find housing and go live on the streets where they're much more likely to re-offend. At least Stewart apparently has a place to live, not to mention a lover who's not a little boy he bribed with candy (no, really, that's how he lured his victims).
Would anyone around here want to live by him? Of course not. But we already live by a hundred others and we do OK. Hell, Harold Lee, a non-compliant child molester, lives about 300 yards from my house where I'm typing this now.
But until the state hands out mandatory life sentences for all sex criminals, or gives them additional islands of their own (in fact, Shaw Island just northeast of Friday Harbor is rather uninhabited), we all have to deal with them.