The resident of the Garden House transition home for sex offenders has been relocated back to McNeil Island’s Special Commitment Center.
Stevan Knapp moved into Garden House, a “less restrictive alternative” (LRA) from McNeil Island around the new year. Designated a “high level” sex offender, the Enumclaw community was outraged that officials did little to alert people that Knapp was moving into the area and nothing to alert the city that Garden House existed and was operating as transitional housing for sex offenders.
Over the last several months, the grassroots organization Save Our Children — Enumclaw has been devising strategies to close the LRA and relocate Knapp via civil suits.
However, before anything was filed in court, Knapp was moved back to the McNeil Island facility on July 10.
According to Chris Wright, Washington State Department of Corrections communications director, Knapp was moved for several reasons, none of which appear related to criminal or sexual violations of his conditional release.
First, it appears that Knapp’s paranoia and anxiety has risen to unmanageable levels these last few months; he told the DOC that he faced “constant harassment and threats to his safety from the community,” Wright said in an email. “The house has been egged, liquor bottles have been tossed onto the property and recreational vehicles have driven up and down alongside the property simply to create noise.”
Additionally, on July 4, the DOC found remnants of what could have been an “improvised explosive device” on the Garden House yard. Whether or not that was the case is inconclusive.
Because of these incidents, Knapp had armed himself with a sharpened dowel left from a construction crew for self-defense; Knapp is not allowed to have weapons of any kind.
Finally, it appears Knapp was in contact with a former McNeil Island resident via text, and that resident was “regularly driving by the house and waving at Knapp,” Wright said. “Knapp is not allowed to have visitors, and while the former resident never entered the house, Knapp should’ve disclosed the texts to the [Community Corrections Specialist].”
Before this, Knapp had three minor violations of his release conditions by failing to make point-to-point contact with his Corrections Specialist (Knapp was required to make contact when he arrived and left at pre-approved spots) last March, April, and May. Some of those violations were self-reported.
While Knapp no longer currently resides at Garden House, Save Our Children plan to continue pursuing a civil suit.
“Our efforts will intensify with legal pressure on the Garden House, the state and most importantly, Minnich and Rockwell,” said group President Cathy Dahlquist, referring to Rick Minnich and Jill Rockwell, the operators of the LRA.
Save Our Children raised $50,000 through in-kind donations and an auction over the last several months to retail legal counsel, and was recently gifted a $10,000 grant from the Muckleshoot Tribe to bolster the group’s efforts to close Garden House.
“Save Our Children Enumclaw expresses deep and sincere gratitude to the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe for their generous support and commitment to community welfare,” a press release reads. “The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s grant will not only strengthen the organization’s legal efforts but also contribute significantly to the overall security and well-being of the Enumclaw community.”
According to Wright, Knapp is now awaiting a hearing in the King County Superior Court; it’s unclear at this time what his lawyers might request, but the court will ultimately decide if he can return to Garden House.