Rapist with 87 arrests still avoids three-strike law

by: John Knicely Updated:

SEATTLE, Wash. —

A rapist convicted of several  felonies is now charged with exposing himself to children at Seattle’s Rainier Playfield park.  This newest charge is a felony sex crime, but because of how the Washington “3 Strikes”  law is written,  Joseph Porter faces a maximum of 20 months in prison instead of a life sentence.

Porter was convicted of felony rape, robbery, and burglary in Oregon in 1985 and then he set up shop in Western Washington.  Over the past few decades, he’s been arrested 87 times.  He was convicted of felony failure to register as a sex offender in 2011, and he’s been convicted of 41 gross misdemeanors and misdemeanors including indecent exposure in 2003 and 2006.

Now he’s charged with a felony sex crime against kids for what allegedly happened on June 2.  Charging documents show parents claim Porter was urinating near the playground where 25 to 30 kids were playing.  A public restroom was less than 50 feet away.  Parents and kids told police that Porter was exposing his genitals and yelling “Look at me!”

The King County Prosecutor’s Office says Porter has two strikes in the state’s three strikes rule.  The law allows for a life sentence upon conviction of the third strike.  But this newest charge is a Class C felony and would not count as a strike.

“Under Washington law passed by the state Legislature there's a specific list of crimes as a strike offense,” said attorney Ian Goodhew of the prosecutor’s office.  “The Legislature did not list felony indecent exposure as a strike offense.”

Goodhew pointed out that under California law, Porter could be locked up for life, but Washington’s 3 Strikes law isn’t as tough.

“That list has been set pretty much in stone since the law passed in 1994,” said Goodhew.  “And the Legislature has not shown any interest in expanding that list.”

JoAnne Lindwall brought her kids to Rainier Playfield on Tuesday and was disgusted to learn of Porter’s recent arrest.

“They need to reevaluate the 3 Strikes law,” said Lindwall.  “Any sexual offenses against children should be taken much more seriously.”