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A once-respected Seattle drug-treatment counselor was sentenced to a little more than 4½ years in prison on Friday after admitting he planned to have sex with a 10-year-old boy in September 2011.

As part of a plea deal reached in April, David Allen Scratchley also pleaded guilty to cocaine possession. In exchange for his pleas, King County prosecutors reduced an attempted first-degree rape of a child charge to attempted first-degree child molestation. The state also dropped charges of possession of child pornography and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

Scratchley has spent 20 months in the King County Jail, and with credit for time served and a potential 10 percent reduction in his prison sentence for good behavior, it’s possible he could be released in about three years.

But King County Superior Court Judge Richard Eadie agreed to impose an indeterminate sentence of up to life, which means it will be up to a state board to decide whether to release Scratchley or add time to his prison term.

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Though Scratchley and his defense attorney seemed to blame the 53-year-old’s cocaine addiction for his crime, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Val Richey said Scratchley had a long-standing sexual interest in children.

Scratchley, the former manager of the Matt Talbot Center in Belltown, had the experience, training and resources to seek help for his addiction, but instead he “chose a path of deceit that led him here today,” Richey said.

“He’s blaming drugs, blaming his partner, blaming everybody but himself,” he said of Scratchley.

Defense attorney John Henry Browne said Scratchley — who has two doctorate degrees from the University of Wyoming — has undergone a sexual-deviancy evaluation and has been found to be “very amenable to treatment.”

“There was no harm done to this child,” Browne said. “ … If Dr. Scratchley hadn’t been stopped that day, he’d probably be dead” from his addiction.

Scratchley told Eadie that he feels “immeasurable regret and sorrow” for his attempted sexual assault and for betraying the trust so many had placed in him. “I deeply, deeply apologize to all parties.”

On Sept. 1, 2011, Scratchley invited his girlfriend, who was also a patient, to his apartment on Western Avenue to use cocaine and engage in sex with the boy, whose mother had given permission for Scratchley to spend time with her son, court papers say.

The woman also told police that Scratchley had previously talked about his sexual fantasies with children and that he said he had sexually assaulted children in the past, the papers say.

The girlfriend, who led Scratchley to believe she was willing to participate in the assault on the boy, instead contacted Seattle police. Detectives accompanied her to Scratchley’s apartment, where the 10-year-old was sent downstairs by Scratchley to let the woman into the building, the papers say.

The boy told officers Scratchley had initiated a conversation about sex and warned him not to tell anyone, according to the papers.

Should he be released from prison, Scratchley will be under community supervision for three years and will have to register as a sex offender for life, the judge ruled.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or

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