Oak Harbor serial rapist moves to Marysville

Paul Harell - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Paul Harell
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

A serial rapist who broke into homes in the Oak Harbor area during the early 1990s to attack women at knifepoint has been moved from the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island to a Marysville halfway house.

Paul Harell, a 39-year-old former Navy man, terrorized North Whidbey for a six-month period from 1992 to 1993. He was finally arrested after viciously raping a 17-year-old girl in her bedroom at night.

Harell was convicted of rape in the first degree and two counts of second-degree rape with forcible compulsion. He was sentenced to 16 years and two months in prison. In all, Harell raped or sexually assaulted four women and two teenaged girls by the time he was 22 years old, according to the state’s certification for probable cause.

He was due to be released in 2009 when the state Attorney General’s Office stepped in. The office attempted to have Harell deemed a “sexually violent predator” and civilly committed to the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

After two years of court hearings during which time Harell has been held at the Special Commitment Center, the Attorney General’s Office and Harell’s attorney came to a compromise designed to provide Harell a road to freedom while keeping the community safe.

Harell stipulated that he meets the definition of a sexually violent predator, which means he suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes him likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility.

The state’s 1990 sexually violent predator civil commitment statute is designed to protect the public from such “sexually violent predators.”

Brooke Burbank, the section chief for the sexually violent predator unit, explained that Harell’s attorney made a strong case that he could be managed safely in the community. Without the agreement, the Attorney General’s Office would have to go to trial to prove that Harell is a sexually violent predator, and there was a chance the office could lose and Harell would be set free.

“We felt a very tough monitoring program was better than the possibility of unconditional release,” she said.

Under the agreement finalized last month, Harell was released to a community-based “less restrictive alternative.” He will be living in the Marysville Mack House   and will receive treatment from a “sex offender treatment provider.”

In addition, Harell will have to abide by some very strict conditions. He has to live at the home, must comply with a curfew, must not leave the residence except for activities pre-approved by the court, must have a GPS monitoring device on him when he goes outside, and must log the date and time of each trip he takes outside the home.

Also, he has to undergo periodic drug screens, breathalyzer tests, polygraphs and plethysmographic assessments. He’s not allowed to have any contact with his victims.


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