Rantz: Soft-on-crime Washington judges release accused rapist, car thief

Aug 29, 2023, 6:34 PM | Updated: Aug 30, 2023, 11:30 am

King County and Seattle’s soft-on-crime approach has extended to Thurston County where two judges recently went easy on two dangerous suspects. Law enforcement agencies are livid.

Tenino Police said they were contacted by a mother who accused her ex-husband Kenneth Douglas Gerdts of raping her minor daughter from when she was nine through age 14. There was enough evidence for the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (TCPAO) to file multiple charges for sex crimes, including rape of a child in the first degree. He was officially charged on August 28.

The probable cause documents offer explicit and shocking details of the alleged sexual conduct by Gerdts. It explains that the victim was told she “cannot tell my mom about it” and that she was praised as a “good girl” for allowing the sexual contact. She alleged that Gerdts would distract her with cartoons during sex so she wouldn’t focus on the pain he caused.

When the mother found out about Gerdts’ alleged conduct, she kicked him out of the house. The probable cause documents said Gerdts tried to manipulate the mother by “telling her they will all go to jail for this.” Police said they have video and photo evidence to corroborate parts of the victim’s allegations.

Low bail for accused

Superior Court Judge Sharonda D. Amamilo found probable cause for three charges. The TCPAO asked that bail be set at $250,000, but Amamilo reduced the bail to just $10,000.

The low bail meant Gerdts need only put up $1,000, which he was able to. He’s since been released, prompting a press release from the Tenino Police Department calling attention to the outrageous soft-on-crime approach to a suspect officers believe to be a serious threat.

“I’m deeply disgusted that in some places in the state of Washington that you can be accused and arrested for repeatedly raping a child and walk free for little to no bail,” State Representative Travis Couture (R-wa35) told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “It sends a message to victims that they do not matter, and it further emboldens sex predators to pursue future crimes. The man accused poses a serious threat to the community and should remain behind bars with high bail until their court date. This decision from Judge Amamilo spits upon the hard work of law enforcement and erodes the morale of those protectors and the community. It must end.”

This isn’t the only apparent soft-on-crime approach from a judge towards an alleged danger to the community.

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Steals car for high-speed pursuit, is released without bail

An 18-year-old from Puyallup allegedly stole a car. When he was approached by law enforcement, as a deputy suspected the driver of DUI, Thurston County Sherriff’s Office said the man took them on a near-100-mph pursuit. He had five teenagers in the car with him at the time.

After fleeing from the vehicle, body cam footage shows officers arresting him after he hid in a Honey Bucket at a nearby construction site.

While Thurston County Superior Court Judge Allyson Zipp noted in court paperwork that there was a “substantial danger” that the man “will commit a violent crime,” she decided to release him on his own personal recognizance. He spent less than 21 hours in jail.

Sheriff Derek Sanders was upset that there wasn’t even minor bail imposed on the suspect. He called it a “morale hit for the community” and for his deputies.

“It’s not unreasonable to require some bail,” Sanders told KING 5. “To require that some person, who doesn’t live here, who has committed a crime that is escaping in nature, be required to post some sort of bail. That’s not excessive to me.”

Excuses, excuses

Both cases are examples of soft-on-crime judges not acting very judgmental, showing a callous disregard for the purported victims and the police who work hard to address community threats. I write about this issue extensively in my forthcoming book, What’s Killing America.

Often, judges hide behind Washington court rules and state law to justify their low or no bail. The rule requires a “presumption that the defendant be released without posting bail.”

But that same rule also says exceptions can be made, and bail imposed, if “(1) the court determines that such recognizance will not reasonably assure the accused’s appearance, when required, or (2) there is shown a likely danger that the accused: (a) will commit a violent crime, or (b) will seek to intimidate witnesses, or otherwise unlawfully interfere with the administration of justice.”

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Bail usually serves everyone

It’s hard to make sense of either of these decisions as judges do not comment on pending cases. Unfortunately, they rarely comment on any cases at all, making it difficult to hold them accountable. Their silence helps kill important stories. But it also makes it impossible to understand if they had reasonable justification that we’re just not seeing.

But it must be noted that bail serves the victim, community and the accused.

When someone is a legitimate danger, such as someone who police and a prosecutor believe raped a minor, the alleged victim and the community obviously benefit from a high bail that can keep the suspect locked up or be such a significant amount that it helps disincentive them from recommitting.

Regardless of the bail amount, it can also help create a support system for the accused. An 18-year-old who may have stolen a car, taken deputies on a high-speed chase, and then fleeing, could likely use more responsible adults in his life. That 18-year-old is unlikely to have cash for bail, forcing them to rely on family or friends to put up the collateral. Generally, that means the suspect will now have an adult (usually a parent) looking out for them and ensuring they take the court process seriously and stay out of trouble. They don’t want to lose that money — nor do they want to lose their loved one to a jail sentence.

Progressive influence

Progressive abolitionists fight harder for criminals than they do victims. And they have been successful in their efforts to end cash bail across the country. They call it racist and classist, though never explain if it matters that someone is accused of serious crimes that justify high- to no-bail.

When they’re unable to help pressure judges to release suspects on their own personal recognizance, they indiscriminately bail people out of jail, often on the basis of that suspect’s skin color, gender identity or socioeconomic status. They use an intersectional checklist to decide who they’ll bail out, rather than looking at the case and the suspect’s criminal history.

Activists only seem interested in the issue because their end goal is to dismantle systems of oppression. And when judges seem to placate this loud Radical Left activist class, it should alarm us all. It does them no favors when they’re unwilling or unable to explain their actions.

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Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book “What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our Cities.” Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Soft-on-crime Washington judges release accused rapist, car thief