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FWay job of sex offender now in doubt

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

A civilly committed sex offender who has escaped three times from custody, reoffended twice and now is living in transitional housing on McNeil Island apparently won’t work in Federal Way as originally planned.

The state Department of Social and Health Services announced this week that John Mathers, a Level 3 sex offender, would begin working April 28 as part of a janitorial crew cleaning offices late at night in Kent and Federal Way.

But Federal Way Police officials said Thursday evening that DSHS had informed them Mathers’ job in Federal Way is off because a janitorial firm decided not to hire him. DSHS couldn’t be reached for confirmation, and it was unclear whether Mathers will still work in Kent.

In its initial announcement, DSHS said Mathers would have constant, one-on-one supervision while at work and wouldn’t have contact with the general public.

A staff member from the Secure Community Transition Facility on McNeil Island would drive Mathers to and from the job, and local law enforcement personnel have been notified of the buildings where Mathers would be and the route the driver would take to and from the locations each night.

Mathers was arrested in the late 1970s for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl he saw walking down a sidewalk and, later, an 11-year-old boy and his 10-year-old sister whom he found delivering newspapers, according to information posted on the Pierce County Sheriff Department’s Web site.

In the years following his arrest, Mathers escaped from custody three times.

During the first incident in 1980, Mathers escaped from a state work-release facility and went to California, where he assaulted and stabbed a 22-year-old woman.

In 1981, Mathers was living at a work-release facility in Tacoma and acquired a four-hour pass, during which he met a 19-year-old woman and convinced her to invite him to her home. Once there, he stabbed her in the abdomen with a screwdriver and then sexually assaulted her. He escaped from the facility a few days later when police brought in the woman to identify him.

In 1989, Mathers again escaped from the Washington State Reformatory Farm in Snohomish County. He told police he went to Seattle and San Francisco, but turned himself in about two months later.

In 1997, Mathers was admitted to the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island for sex offender treatment.

Level 3 sex offenders, such as Mathers, are considered violent and most likely to reoffend. When one moves into a community, authorities routinely notify the public.

Federal Way Police officials said Thursday that if Mathers

DSHS’ announcement of Mathers’ work assignment comes amid outcry from Peasley Canyon residents who remain opposed to a state proposal to build a transitional facility for sex offenders in their wooded, residential area between Federal Way and Auburn. Neighbors of the site have cited safety concerns, including fears the residents of the facility might escape and disappear into the woods surrounding the facility.

Federal Way Police officials said Thursday they’re monitoring plans for Mathers.

Staff writer Erica Jahn: 925-5565, ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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