When registered sex offender Jethro Raphael Butcher was released from jail in January 2010 after serving time for raping two women in Pierce County, he landed a job as a youth pastor at Seattle Open Door Church in Burien.
The first “sexual assault happened when I was 14 years old,” a now-20-year old woman recently told KIRO 7.
Larissa, who wanted to be identified by her first name only, is angry and frustrated that Butcher, a man convicted of raping multiple women, was allowed to serve as a youth pastor.
Larissa described the grooming that began when she was 11. She said Butcher would text her messages that read “I love you” and “I want to practice having babies with you.”
“I went to church because I was a vulnerable youth and I wanted to get away from my home, and I wanted to feel loved,” Larissa recalled. “Instead, I got a youth pastor that was abusing me, that was sexually assaulting me, and that was not fair.”
According to court documents filed recently in King County Superior Court, the then-30-year-old Butcher raped Larissa many times at the “recovery” house owned by Open Door Church, and in his car, beginning in 2012.
While Butcher lived and worked at Open Door Church, he was supervised by the Washington State Department of Corrections.
Conditions of his 2010 release from jail for the Pierce County rapes included confirmation that his employment and living arrangements were approved by the DOC, and that Butcher not only be "prohibited from holding any position of authority or trust involving children under the age of 18" but also prohibited him "from frequenting places where children congregate."
Butcher was also order to "have no contact with minors."
“The DOC itself recommended that these very specific supervision conditions be put in place because they were concerned that Mr. Butcher would do this again,” Marty McLean of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP law firm in Seattle, told KIRO 7.
“They asked the judge to make sure he had no access to children. And then they let him work as a youth pastor for three years.”
In that position, Butcher often had unsupervised one-on-one time with children. According to 2016 documents filed in King County after Butcher was arrested and charged with raping Larissa, as “youth pastor” “defendant (Butcher) would give victim rides back and forth to church so that she could attend.”
Because of what Larissa and her attorneys believe were multiple red flags, the college senior is now suing Seattle Open Door Church and the Department of Corrections for negligence.
“The DOC had an obligation to make sure a sex offender was not placed in a position of authority, supervision or trust over a minor,” Tony Shapiro, also of Hagens Berman, said. “That was specifically laid out in his conditions of sentence. They ignored it.”
Butcher “is a recidivist sexual offender,” according to Shapiro, and raping Larissa wasn't Butcher's only crime while living and working at Open Door Church.
“While Mr. Butcher was working as a youth pastor, he committed a random rape of a pedestrian in Tacoma,” McLean said.
In that 2014 case, Butcher pulled a woman into an alley off Pacific Avenue South in Pierce County and raped her at knifepoint inside his car. Butcher was convicted and sentenced to prison.
In Larissa’s case, although he was charged with multiple counts of child rape, Butcher pleaded guilty to communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, a felony, and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
According to McLean, “A man who sexually assaulted four women, that’s the man that the Department of Corrections allowed to care for children at a church.”
“The exact wrong person was put in the exact wrong position,” he added.
When KIRO 7 requested an interview with Seattle Open Door Church to discuss the allegations in the civil complaint, Pastor Richard Dover referred us to his attorney, Gary Trabolsi.
Trabolsi, of Gardner Trabolsi and Associates, PLLC, in Seattle also declined an interview with KIRO 7.
Instead, he emailed a statement that read, in part, “The Church takes (the woman's) allegations seriously, and we are investigating them.”
Jeremy Barclay, the Engagement and Outreach Director for the Washington Department of Corrections, sent KIRO 7 the following statement:
"Because the claim represents an active court case, the agency is limited in its response to the media at this time. The Department of Corrections does take these allegations very seriously and will review them accordingly."
Meanwhile, Larissa has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and believes “no child should have to go through what I went through.”
“There needs to be some accountability,” she said.
Butcher’s earned release date from prison is in August.
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