SPOKANE — A convicted sex offender is barred from entering Wenatchee or East Wenatchee, but a new court order could make it easier for him to gain special permission to visit.
Eric Ray Lewis, 43, pleaded guilty in Douglas County court in 2016 to burglary and first-degree child molestation, for an assault on his girlfriend’s minor child in East Wenatchee. He was sent to prison for four years and now lives in western Washington, with an order not to enter either city without approval from his Department of Corrections community custody officer and from the Indeterminate Sentenc Review Board, which supervises sex offender post-sentencing.
The DOC has automatically turned down multiple requests from Lewis to visit East Wenatchee, where his family lives. On Tuesday, the state Court of Appeals ruled that the requirement doesn’t provide concrete standards for denying his requests.
Lewis filed a personal restraint petition with the higher court, saying his postrelease conditions were unduly burdensome. In addition to the “exclusion zone” that keeps him from entering Wenatchee and East Wenatchee, he also is required to abstain from drugs and alcohol, have no unsupervised contact with minors, and inform DOC of new intimate relationships with other adults.
The Court of Appeals ruling leaves Lewis’ conditions in place, but orders the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board to revise the standards it uses to approve or reject his requests to visit the Wenatchee Valley.
“The language assumes the ISRB will grant permission for justifiable reasons, but does not provide ascertainable standards to protect against arbitrary denials for requests,” Appellate Chief Judge George Fearing wrote for the three-judge panel in Spokane. “… A community custody condition must provide sufficiently ascertainable standards to protect against arbitrary enforcement.”
Each visit Lewis requests would still be subject to approval on a case-by-case basis.