State to pay rent on home for woman sex offender while she seeks release from McNeil Island

A Pierce County judge has ruled that the state must pay rent on a Lakewood home while officials decide whether the first woman ever involuntarily committed as a sexually violent predator can be released to the address.

A Pierce County judge ruled in 2013 that Laura McCollum still qualified as a sexually violent predator.

The 61-year-old is the only woman at the state’s facility for such offenders on McNeil Island, where she has been civilly committed since 1997.

Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff denied her bid to be released from the Special Commitment Center six years ago, according to News Tribune archives, and said he’d reconsider if McCollum solidified a place to live and treatment plans.

That search for housing in recent years has taken “a herculean effort by the defense,” her attorney, Andrew Morrison, recently wrote the court.

They recently found a place, and Morrison asked the state pay rent to hold the Lakewood unit as McCollum’s legal proceedings that could lead to her release go forward.

Chushcoff signed an order March 4 telling the state to pay the $1,300 monthly rent for March and April.

Meanwhile, the state Attorney General’s Office is in the process of reviewing McCollum’s proposed release plan.

They’ll either come to an agreement with McCollum, or she’ll have a trial.

The state argued in its response to Morrison’s motion that “the SCC should not be required to pay rent for Ms. McCollum’s proposed placement until she in fact resides at that location.”

“The SCC is already providing for her treatment there. There is simply no authority that requires the SCC to pay for two separate living facilities for Ms. McCollum ... .”

McCollum’s missed out on other options, Morrison argued, because landlords have grown weary and rented to others while waiting for McCollum to be released.

Morrison wrote the court that the landlord of the Lakewood home, “having signed an acceptance in November, submitted to a DOC investigation of her property in January, and accepted a loss of income on the proposed unit for February, she is requiring that March rent be paid or else the unit will be made available to other prospective tenants.”

The housing options for women sex offenders in particular are especially limited, he told the court.

“U.S. Federal Probation and (Department of Corrections) housing specialists have confirmed to present counsel that there are so few women with sex offense history that do not have family supports that shared housing for such persons is non-existent,” Morrison wrote. “... Persuading a landlord to identify a unit and eventually hold it without income has been an impossible gambit.”

McCollum was the first woman to be committed to the Special Commitment Center and one of two women to reside there in the facility’s history. The other woman was released after a couple years.

McCollum was convicted in Pierce County of molesting a toddler and admitted to sexually assaulting other children and to having violent sexual fantasies about children.

She’s been diagnosed with pedophilia and sexual sadism, among other disorders.

McCollum’s most recent annual review by the state found that she no longer met the criteria to be civilly committed, Morrison wrote in his motion to the court.

The three reviews before that, he wrote, found that she was a candidate for what’s called a “less restrictive alternative.”

The psychologist who wrote the most recent review, in December, found that McCollum has made progress in treatment in recent years.

The report recommended that “McCollum’s release be carefully planned and supported.”

A separate DOC report about McCollum’s proposed housing mentions the possibility of security cameras, a chaperone agency, possible GPS monitoring and the specifics of McCollum’s treatment plans.