Seattle father ‘disappointed’ after kidnapper’s sentencing
He was caught with his pants down — literally – with a knife, electrical cord, and a bottle of whiskey after soliciting a 12-year-old girl outside a music camp. And he will likely be out of jail in a few months.
Now the victim’s father is conflicted — did he do right by his child; and is the judicial system doing right by the offender?
Long-time friend of KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don, Charles related the story of how one of his daughters was nearly kidnapped a year ago, and how the perpetrator of the crime could be released by October.
RELATED: Police warn of kidnapping scam
Charles’ daughter, identified as Sara, was attending a music camp in North Seattle. She was standing at the intersection of a four-way street when the camp’s buddy-system temporarily failed. A retired orange cab pulled up with a male driver inside. Charles said the man offered Sara a ride, which she declined, but he forcefully told her to get inside.
“There’s a lady that’s also at the red light,” Charles said. “She screams ‘Run!’ So my daughter runs — does exactly what she’s supposed to do — goes back to the music school, explains to them the situation, the police come very quickly.”
While interviewing Sara, police found the cab at a nearby parking lot, Charles said.
“He’s in the car, he has his pants undone and is ready for action — if you know what I mean,” Charles said. “The police ask him to please zip his pants back up, get out of the car.”
The man denied making contact with Sara, but video from businesses in the area corroborated Sara’s story, Charles said. Police also found a long-bladed knife, as well as an electrical cord with both ends cut off and a bottle of whiskey, according to Charles.
“I came really close to losing my little girl that day,” he said. “I’m convinced that had my daughter got in that car, we may not have her.”
The suspect was arrested and placed in jail until his trial. Charles said the family decided to do whatever was required to see the case through, including putting his daughter “at risk” by testifying in court. Which she did.
Washington’s kidnapping/abduction laws can come with stiff penalties. Kidnapping in the first-degree and second-degree with a finding of sexual motivation are class A felonies, punishable with upwards of 20 years in prison. Kidnapping in the second degree is a class B felony that carries eight years or more of prison time.
Charles said the man was presented with charges of attempted kidnapping, with an attachment of sexual motivation.
“It was emotional,” Charles said. “I thought I may be mad at the guy, but I felt pity for him. There was no one in there representing him or caring for him or supporting him in this effort and it was really sad. But more importantly, I was so proud of my daughter for standing up there like a champ, brave and just facing this.”
Charles said the man had 40 prior arrests, and though some were sexually motivated, he’d never been convicted for that type of offense.
“When a jury looks at this, they don’t have any insight as to his priors,” Charles said. “They have to judge it based on the merits of the case that’s at hand. And as a result, he got a 15-month sentence, only for the kidnapping.”
When combined with time-served, Charles said that means the man will be back on the streets in October. The man will need to register in the kidnapper’s registry, which is similar to the sexual predator registry, Charles said.
“But still, those are preparations for when you re-offend,” Charles said. “That’s not deterrent. That’s not safety.”
When asked if he was scared for his family’s safety, Charles responded that he was more concerned about the community.
“Here’s a guy that’s going to be released into our community; there’s no safety net for him,” Charles said. “He’s gonna be in a situation which is even worse than what he was. He’s gonna be even more unemployable than what he was. So what does that say? It means that he’s highly likely to offend again.
“I don’t see him as someone I have pity for,” Charles added. “I think he made, probably, decisions in his life, and his situation was what it was and he’s evolved where he is. I would like to see him behind bars for a much longer time.”
And Charles’ reaction to the judicial system and decision to put his daughter on the stand: “I was highly disappointed. I was really disappointed that I put my daughter at risk for a 15-month sentence. Quite honestly, shame on me for not doing further investigation as to what the potential sentences were. If I would have known the result prior, my decision may have been different. I don’t know.”
Kidnapping in Washington
Charles’ kidnapping story is not a standalone and the concerns are not relegated to his city. KIRO 7 reported that two sisters — 7-year-old Ember and 10-year-old Aireyana – fought off a kidnapping attempt Sunday afternoon near their home in southeast Olympia.
Ember says a man grabbed her and that she kicked the man in the shins. Then he tried grabbing her sister off of a bike. Olympia police are still searching for that man, described as white, in his 20s, about 5′ 10″ inches tall with a muscular build and dark hair, with a goatee and a tattoo on his upper left shoulder.
Charles said that he spoke with his daughter after the incident and asked what she would have done if he had a gun. Charles said she responded that she might have gotten in because she had a cell phone.
“And I said, ‘No!’” Charles said. “There’s a false sense of security because of this technology today, right with your phone. ‘Oh, I’m empowered.’ No, you’re not. So have that conversation with your kids.”
Charles said he hopes Sara’s story is a lesson for other parents.
“I think every parent has a conversation with their kids, and if you don’t, please take this opportunity to go home tonight, have this conversation with your kids,” he said. “Tell them this story.”