Robert Danforth has made no secret of his overwhelming desire to molest and rape children. Indeed, in 2006 he walked into the King County Sheriff's Office and demanded to be put in jail because of these desires. Turns out that Danforth will continue to get his wish, now on a permanent basis.
In a narrow decision today, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that Danforth will stay in prison at the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center based solely on the fact that he has said previously that he will probably re-offend if freed.
Danforth, 64, has a long history of arrests going back to 1970, including instances when he sexually abused four boys, aged 7 to 13, and knocked a 12-year-old boy out with a rock and then raped him behind a theater.
When Danforth came into the KCSO headquarters to tell of his "desires" he told detectives "I feel I'd be a serious danger to society if I was turned loose," among other things. But later when Danforth found out that his incarceration at McNeil Island might be permanent, he appealed, saying that those statements shouldn't count as an "overt act" which is required under the law as a condition for an indefinite civil commitment.
Four of the state's nine Supreme Court justices agreed with Danforth. And in the court's dissenting opinion, written by Justice Charles K. Wiggins began his opinion with a section from George Orwell's classic 1984.
"The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed -- would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper -- the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you."
The five other justices, however, disagreed and ordered Danforth kept in custody mainly on procedural grounds regarding the man's previous statements having satisfied the requirement of being an "overt act." In other words, Danforth telling law enforcement officers about his desires to molest and rape children were a direct "threat" and not a "cry for help" as he had argued.