A 35-year-old man was arrested Thursday morning inside the King County Courthouse after Seattle police say he hid in a women’s restroom and attacked a woman who works at the courthouse.
A sheriff’s deputy who happened to be walking by the restroom heard the woman’s screams and separated the suspect and victim, said Sgt. Randy Huserik, a police spokesman.
Following his arrest, the man was interviewed by Seattle police sexual assault detectives and was expected to be booked into the King County Jail, Huserik said. He said the woman didn’t require medical treatment and was driven home by a family member.
In an email sent to employees in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Casey McNerthney, a spokesperson for prosecutor Dan Satterberg, wrote that the woman was attacked inside the restroom near the courthouse’s Fourth Avenue entrance. The assault was characterized as an attempted rape, according to the email.
The deputy who intervened pulled the man off the woman and used force to handcuff him, the email says. The suspect was described as being homeless but it wasn’t immediately clear if he was a resident of an encampment in City Hall Park, located to the south of the courthouse and the site of a recent homicide and several assaults. A 44-year-old man died from a heroin overdose inside the park on July 1, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Ongoing safety concerns for staff and court visitors, including jurors, has prompted recent debate over whether the encampment’s residents should be moved out of the park.
Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who has proposed legislation condemning the park, said Thursday’s attack “is a testament to how unsafe not only City Hall Park has become, but the courthouse itself.” He said he is asking that the courthouse and associated buildings be “shut down to all, except employees and people with necessary business,” until the safety of employees can be assured.
“It is our duty as employers and leaders of the County to make sure that everyone working, accessing services, and seeking justice in all of these buildings are able to do so without fear for their own personal safety,” he wrote in a letter to King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
According to McNerthney and court records, the man arrested Thursday was released from jail on July 23 after serving 21 months for indecent liberties with forcible compulsion and three counts of fourth-degree assault, two of them with sexual motivation.
In that case, he was arrested in May 2019 after groping one woman as he pinned her to a wall, slapping the buttocks of two other women, and grabbing a fourth woman in a bear hug before she fought him off, court records say. The women were all strangers to the man and were assaulted in quick succession to each other at their workplaces in Pioneer Square, according to the records.
The man, who McNerthney said is under supervision of the state Department of Corrections until July 2024, is listed on the King County Sheriff’s sex offender registry as a Level 1 transient sex offender.