SEATTLE (AP) - A convicted sex offender kidnapped and raped an 18-year-old woman in Seattle less than a week after a judge allowed him to walk out of jail without posting bail, King County prosecutors said.
Ricky Lee Lewis, 55, is now charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree rape and is being held in King County jail on a $1 million bail, The Seattle Times reported ( http://bit.ly/XOH18n).
The judge who allowed Lewis to go free on his personal recognizance six days before the alleged rape concedes he may have made a mistake.
"I'm sorry I was wrong, but that was my judgment at the time," Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler said on Friday. "Judges take risks every day. The only way to avoid that would be to keep everybody in jail as long as possible, but that's the easy way out."
Kessler said that at the time he declined to set bail for Lewis and allowed him to go free, no evidence had been presented to him by prosecutors to indicate Lewis would commit a violent crime.
Lewis had been convicted of two rapes and had served 10 years in prison before he was released in 2003, according to court documents. He was labeled a Level III sex offender, indicating he was considered a high risk to reoffend.
Last year, Lewis stopped making his required weekly check-ins with the King County Sheriff's Office.
As a result, he was charged with failure to register as a sex offender and was summoned to court on March 14. Prosecutors asked for a $30,000 bail, saying that his failure to register demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with court orders and posed a threat to the community, the charging documents say.
Lewis, however, said that he'd lived in the area for 48 years and was receiving mental-health treatment. In addition, court records show it was the first time he had been charged with failing to register, a felony punishable by up to one year in jail.
Kessler granted Lewis' request for release on personal recognizance and ordered Lewis to register as a sex offender, according to the documents.
Lewis then appeared in court the following week, on March 19, and asked that his next hearing be delayed until April because he was scheduled for ankle surgery, a request which was granted.
The next day, Lewis is accused of raping the woman.
The victim told Seattle police that she was walking on a busy avenue in the evening when Lewis pulled up to her in a black van and asked if she wanted a ride. When she declined, Lewis opened the door and grabbed the woman, charging papers say.
Lewis then drove to his trailer home parked on a city street. He pulled the teen out of the van by grabbing her in a bear hug and clasping his hand over her mouth.
The woman was allowed to leave after the rape, but she left her socks and $20 in the trailer, she told police.
Later, she led police to Lewis' trailer and positively identified him as the man who had assaulted her, prosecutors said. When questioned, a witness told police he had seen Lewis pick up a female and drag her into the trailer and had heard her screams for help, according to charging documents.
Lewis had been convicted of statutory rape in 1985 for forcibly raping a 15-year-old girl he'd lured to his apartment and of second-degree rape in 1993 after raping a woman he'd brought to his apartment, prosecutors say in court documents.
If convicted as charged, Lewis faces life in prison under the two-strike law for sex offenders.
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