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Judge orders mental-health evaluation for accused kidnapper

A Tacoma man accused of first-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation in the abduction of an 8-year-old Federal Way girl earlier this month has been ordered by a judge to undergo a mental-health evaluation at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom to determine his competency to stand trial.

Prosecutors in the case requested that Benjamin H. Trinh, 28, receive the in-patient evaluation. King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle granted their wish Wednesday morning during a hearing at the King County Courthouse in Seattle.

The arraignment, which was scheduled for Wednesday, has been rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 18, according to the King County Prosecutor’s office.

According to charging papers, family members of Trinh told police that the Tacoma man has a history of mental-health issues. Trinh’s bail remains at $1 million; he is not a registered sex offender.

According to details released in the charging papers, Trinh told police that after kidnapping the girl on the evening of April 11 from the playground in the Twin Lakes area of Federal Way, he drove to the McDonald’s drive-thru on South 348th Street, then ate in the Secoma Lanes parking lot before heading to the Target in The Commons Mall.

While at Target, Trinh bought the girl a swimsuit, sandals and candy, among other things, according to the charging papers. After purchasing the items, Trinh and the girl went to his home in Tacoma, where she changed into the swimsuit and went swimming at Bally Total Fitness in University Place, police said. Trinh then took her back to his house and committed sex acts with the girl, according to police. Trinh admitted to police during an interview to sexually assaulting the girl and taking photos while doing so.

Police said they found several other videos and photos in Trinh’s South Tacoma home of young girls performing sex acts. It’s not clear who the girls are, but police are asking other families to come forward if they have any suspicions.

Federal Way Police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock has said they are not aware of any other victims of Trinh. Police believe videos found in Trinh’s house of young girls performing sex acts are commercial pornography, Schrock said.

Police are crediting an employee at the Federal Way Target store for the subsequent arrest of Trinh on April 12 in Tacoma. Police used surveillance video from the store, along with credit card receipts from things he bought the girl, to locate his Tacoma address.

The Target employee, a mother herself, received the Amber Alert over her cell phone April 11 and recognized the girl in the photo. The employee remembered seeing the 8-year-old with an Asian man earlier in the evening around the fitting rooms inside Target, according to police.

 

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