November 18, 2002
New resident leaves neighborhood unsettled
by Jeanette Knutson
King County Sheriff's Office sent out fliers notifying people within a one-mile radius of a home in the 19000 block of Northeast 165th Place that a Level 2 sex offender had moved to their neighborhood.
Such notification is required by law and is meant to be informative, to enhance community safety and awareness.
It is not intended to create alarm or panic, nor is it meant as a punishment leveled against the sex offender.
Besides mailing notification bulletins, the Sheriff's Office hosted a community meeting to address neighborhood concerns.
King County Sheriff's Detective Jim Beaumont of the Special Assault Unit led the meeting, held last Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Cottage Lake Elementary. About 50 people attended.
Beaumont explained the history of sex offender notification and registration laws. He said that Level 2 sex offenders have some risk of re-offending, that they are noted for grooming their victims, that the abuse can take place over a long period of time. May Kay Letourneau, he said, was an example of a Level 2 offender.
Two representatives from the Children's Response Center, Eastside Services for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress urged parents to have on-going matter-of-fact conversations with their children about touching, what is appropriate, what is not. They warned parents to know the people with whom their children are spending time. Checking references is OK. And monitoring children's Internet use is a must.
Marilynn Malcom, the offender in question, was not present at the meeting. Her 1987 convictions as set out in the notification bulletin were discussed: statutory rape 1st, 4 counts; statutory rape 2nd, 3 counts; indecent liberties, 3 counts; accomplice to indecent liberties; accomplice to statutory rape 1st.
According to the bulletin, the seven victims were all children between the ages of 3 and 7 that she cared for in her home and in her day care business.
Malcom was released from prison in 1999 after serving 12 years of an 18-year sentence.
She insists upon her innocence. She even refused a plea bargain that brought with it a 2-year sentence plus treatment. For her, agreeing to a plea bargain was tantamount to an admission of guilt.
"I'm not a perfect human being, but I'm an American," said Malcom in a phone interview after the community meeting. "I stood up for what I believed. I was innocent. I don't even think that way."
A packet of six testimonials written in her behalf by her daughter, State Rep. Marc Boldt (17th District), a psychiatrist, a longtime friend, a retired judge, and an attorney was left on neighbors' doorsteps. The information in the packet was meant to explain Malcom's situation and waylay neighbors' fears.
But it wasn't enough for everyone.
At the meeting, parents asked why Malcom was brought into a neighborhood with so many children. Thirteen children use the bus stop directly across the street from her residence.
Barbara Bowen, friend of nine years and believer in her innocence, invited Malcom to her Woodinville home, knowing Malcom had been asked to leave her previous residence in Gig Harbor because of a mold problem. Bowen knew Malcom had no place else to go. Malcom had been in a serious car accident, couldn't get work and couldn't get a place on her own.
Bowen said she was very comfortable with Malcom's living situation.
She has no access to kids. Each day she drives her car in the driveway, gets out and comes straight in the house, said Bowen.
"You won't see her outside," she said.
"Why was she handing out candy on Halloween?" asked a mother.
Bowen shrugged her shoulders and said that she (Bowen) had also been in the house.
Neighbors asked if it was true that Malcom refused treatment while in prison.
The answer was, "Yes, it's true. She maintained her innocence."
The question of how long Malcom was going to be in the neighborhood was asked several times, in several different ways. Bowen didn't have an answer.