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State of Washington Settles Suit for $400,000 After Released Sex Offender Goes on Crime Spree

In June 2008, the State of Washington entered into a stipulated judgment to settle claims for damages, filed in both state and federal courts, by Diana McKissen, who was raped, tortured, and severely beaten at gunpoint in 2004, when Community Corrections Officer Chris Leyendecker allegedly failed in his responsibilities to properly and adequately supervise Richard Wilson, a high-risk sex offender released from the Washington State Penitentiary in March 2004. In settling the lawsuits, which had been filed one year earlier, the State of Washington paid Ms. McKissen $400,000 (including attorney’s fees and costs), but did not make any admissions of liability.

By the time of his release in March 2004, Wilson had convictions for delivery of narcotics, robbery and rape to his name, and had apparently spent much of his adult life either in prison or on supervised release. The Department of Corrections considered him to be a high risk for reoffense, designated him as Risk Management-A, and determined that he needed to be monitored through home and office visits, urinalysis tests, polygraphs and reports from his sex offender therapist.

According to the complaint filed in federal court, however, shortly after Wilson’s release from prison, Officer Leyendecker abdicated his responsibilities to monitor Wilson and lost track of him. That abdication proved costly, both to Wilson and the public. Wilson absconded, first to Goldendale, Washington, where he burglarized one home twice, and then to Biggs Junction, Oregon, where he raped, tortured and severely beat Ms. McKissen at gunpoint for several hours.

Wilson’s rampage continued, unfortunately, as he fled first to Idaho, where he murdered a young woman in her home there, and then to Utah where, in separate robberies, he shot and injured two more women. In the end, after leading police on a high-speed car chase, Wilson put a gun to his head and killed himself.

Ms. McKissen was represented by attorneys Douglas C. McDermott and Eric S. Newman of the Seattle firm of McDermott Newman, PLLC.

Sources: Release and Settlement Agreement in McKissen v. Leyendecker, CV-07-141-EFS, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington, and McKissen v. State of Washington, No. 07-2-00912-1, Thurston County Superior Court.

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Related legal case

McKissen v. Leyendecker and McKissen v. State of Washington

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this case.