Skip to comments.Counselor at center for sex offenders faces child porn charge
Posted on 04/21/2003 10:42:12 AM PDT by WaterDragon
TACOMA -- A counselor at the state's Special Commitment Center for sex offenders on McNeil Island was charged yesterday with possessing child pornography.
Jeffrey Anthony Thornton pleaded not guilty to the charge and had bail set at $50,000, according to state officials.
The case has shocked and disappointed his co-workers at the center, according to its superintendent, Mark Seling.
"I'm stunned," Seling said. "It's very difficult."
Thornton, 35, coordinated and oversaw visits to the center, picking visitors up on the mainland and escorting them to the facility on the grounds of the McNeil Island state prison.
The special center houses sex offenders who have served their sentences in prison but are being held under civil commitment laws after being found at high risk to reoffend. There is a separate transitional home on the island for sex offenders who have moved out of the center.
Court documents gave this account of the case against Thornton:
On April 5, Thornton's girlfriend, who lives with him in Tacoma, was looking for a blank videotape for a camcorder. While checking some of the tapes, she found one that appeared to depict Thornton having sexual contact with what appeared to be a young girl. She called Tacoma police.
An officer, searching a number of other tapes in the house, found another one depicting the same girl and two others wearing bathing suits. One was a relative of Thornton's who lives on the East Coast, the girlfriend told police.
A Tacoma police detective contacted that girl. She told them the girl in the sexually explicit tape might be her cousin. A police detective from New Jersey who aided investigators told Tacoma detectives that the girl was now 14 years old.
Thornton contacted Tacoma police Thursday, saying he had learned of the investigation.
He then told them: "Everything is on the tape. I did it. I regret it. It was two years ago, " according to court papers. Thornton then asked for an attorney.
Seling said that Thornton is on his regularly scheduled days off and that the center is investigating as quickly as possible. The state did run a background check before Thornton was hired in August 2001, and it was clean, Seling said. He was known as a good worker, he said.
"The rest of the employees are very upset," Seling said. "They feel betrayed, no question about it."
Why? It's common for "therapists/counselors" to be reformed? abusers. You see it promoted as a selling point for service agencies to get abusers to open up to someone who's been there.
I heard on the radio this morning there's a citizen initiative in the works to make certain types of sexual assault a one strike and you're out provision. That should be the policy anyway.
Just thought this bears repeating.