Northwest NEWS

August 2, 1999

Front Page

Police seek community help to monitor parolee

Thomas Irby by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--"Thomas Irby is probably just as afraid as his neighbors are, at this point," said Bruce Harris, during a community information meeting at Woodinville High School last Tuesday, July 27, about the Level-Three sex offender.

   The audience, estimated at over 200, received general crime prevention safety tips from officers representing the Bothell and Woodinville Police Departments, and the King and Snohomish Sheriff's departments.

   "Mr. Irby is afraid of false reports made against him that might send him back to prison," said Harris, Irby's community corrections officer (CCO), who works for the State Dept. of Correction's Sexual Offenders Supervision Unit. "And that's good. We want to keep him slightly uncomfortable, because that will help him keep himself in line."

   Irby was released from the Twin Rivers correction facility in Monroe on July 26. He lives with his wife and children in the 12800 block of NE 199th St., Bothell. Several close neighbors were at the meeting, wondering how state and local officers can guarantee that Irby will not re-offend.

   "Nothing in life can be guaranteed, but Mr. Irby will be closely and frequently monitored for two years by my office, and by Bothell police for as long as he lives in Bothell," said Harris. "Mr. Irby knows that he will go to prison for life if he commits one more violent crime, because he has already been convicted of two."

   Bothell and Woodinville police will work with his department to frequently monitor Irby, under the Smart Partnership program, Harris said.

   "Mr. Irby is free to travel around King County, but must obtain permission to leave the county. He will be subjected to frequent random urinalysis tests by my office and local police, to ensure that he is abiding by the terms of his parole that he not use alcohol or drugs, not possess firearms, or have contact with his victim. Police are allowed to stop by his house unannounced at any time. He is under curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., seven days a week. He must sign up for sexual deviancy therapy within 30 days after his release. We will give him frequent polygraph exams, asking him questions like whether or not he has told his therapist about any deviant fantasies he might have had. Failure to report that would also violate his parole conditions."

   Bothell Police Capt. Bob Woolverton said Irby and his wife reported to him on June 27, the day after his release, and laid out a self-monitoring program for himself.

   "I asked him what behaviors he'll exercise to keep himself from re-offending," said Woolverton. "He said he won't leave his house alone, even to check the mail, except when he drives to and from work, because his wife also works fulltime. He will call his wife or his CCO before he leaves for work and when he arrives. He will keep a daily log of all the miles he drives and every phone call he makes or receives.

   "I want to stress that these are self-imposed conditions that the law does not require of Mr. Irby. He successfully completed treatment programs at Twin Rivers for sexual deviancy, violent behavior, and anger management.

   "He appeared open and honest (about revealing all the details of his crimes) during his treatment sessions. Although the judge gave him an exceptional sentence for first-degree attempted rape--10 years instead of the usual 6 to 8--he was given an early out for good behavior. That actually makes it easier for us, because of the strict rules he must follow and our ability to monitor him. He will get an additional 18 months in prison if he doesn't follow those rules."

   Irby served eight and a half years of that 1991 sentence for severely beating and choking a 21-year-old female real estate agent in Bellevue in November of 1990.

   "Mr. Irby has 30 half-siblings from his father's 12 marriages and seven half-siblings from his mother's marriages," said Woolverton. "He started smoking cigarettes at the age of eight, marijuana at age 10, and was regularly smoking marijuana by age 12."

   His sexual confusion first surfaced at age 12, when he tried to rape his mother, who was strong enough to fight him off, said Woolverton. Later that day, Irby doused the bed with lighter fluid, laid down on it, and set the bed on fire. His first violent assault conviction came from a 1985 attack on a female co-worker when he was 23 years old.

   Irby is now 38, wears two hearing aids, has black hair and blue eyes, stands 5'11" tall, and weighs 180-200 lbs.

   Harris and Woolverton cautioned people not to harass Irby or be overly concerned about their children. Irby's two crimes have been against adult women, and statistics show offenders usually don't "cross over" to other age groups or genders, Harris said.

   "Please do not harass Mr. Irby, directly or over the phone," said Woolverton. "No matter how any of us might feel about his release, the law has said he has paid his debt to society and has the right to live in peace. We live in a civil society, and police officers must protect the rights of all citizens. Please don't make us arrest you for violating Mr. Irby's civil rights. One violent offender has already successfully sued the state because of citizen harassment. If people continue to do that, we could lose the Community Protection Act, sponsored by former State Rep. Ida Ballasiotes, whose daughter was murdered in 1988 by a released violent offender."

   The panel of law enforcement officers gave the audience some common sense tips for protecting themselves and their families from various crimes. Snohomish County Detective Joe Beard advised the audience to teach their small children how to dial 9-1-1, and older children how to call collect, in case they need help while away from home. Snohomish County has 38 Level Three sex offenders, he said, and the state has 12,000 sex offenders of all three levels who are not in prison.

   "Only two percent of sex offenders are strangers, while the majority are family members," said Beard. "Almost all sex offenders are known by the families of victims. Don't ever leave your children alone at a shopping area, such as the Everett Mall. Don't ever let your children play alone. Sex offenders usually select children who are alone. They befriend their victims, over time, before offending. They often set the child up by getting them to keep a secret from their parents over something innocent, to test them, saying they would both get in trouble if the child told the parents. It's important to listen carefully to what your children tell you, and not be quick to scold a child for something they tell you. That can make them stop telling you things that happen to them."

   Bothell Crime Prevention Officer Elmer Brown told the audience about steps they can take to protect themselves from crimes.

   "Turn on your porch lights at night; motion sensor lights are even better," said Brown. "They give criminals a sense that they've been caught when they come on. When you come home at night and push the remote control to open your garage, check out the inside of your garage before and after you pull in, to make sure no one is inside, before getting out of your car.

   "Don't let any strangers in your house who say they need to use your phone. Tell them you'll call for them. Don't leave a key under your doormat. Organize block watch groups. Please call me at 425-485-5505 if you want us to come out and make a safety presentation to your block watch group. I will also bring your local beat officer along to meet you."