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Family of Zina Linnik set to sue state, Tacoma, Pierce County today

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on April 13, 2010 at 11:50 am with 39 Comments »
April 13, 2010 5:23 pm

UPDATE: The family of Zina Linnik filed suit Tuesday against Tacoma, Pierce County and the state, claiming they did not do enough to monitor the sex offender who kidnapped, raped and killed the 12-year-old Tacoma girl three years ago.

The lawsuit also contends Tacoma police were negligent when they delayed issuing an Amber Alert for nearly 13 hours after Terapon Adhahn snatched the girl from the alley behind her Hilltop home on July 4, 2007.

Auburn attorney Tyler Firkins filed the suit on behalf of the family in King County Superior Court. It does not seek specific damages, but the Linnik family filed a $32 million claim against Tacoma last year.

The goal of the lawsuit is to change existing laws and “close loopholes for sex offenders,” Firkins said.

The state already has enacted laws to monitor sex offenders more closely as a result of the girl’s death, and Tacoma police changed their policy last year to give more people within the department the ability to issue an Amber Alert.

The family wants more, Firkins said.

Among the changes being sought: A “one strike, you’re out” provision for legal aliens convicted of a sex offense, Firkins said.

They also want the Department of Corrections to have the latitude to change an offender’s classification over time – and their corresponding level of supervision – even if he or she is not convicted of new crimes.

Tacoma last year rebuffed the family’s request to mediate their complaints.

“The city recognizes that the Linnik family has suffered an incomprehensible loss,” City Manager Eric Anderson wrote in a letter to the City Council. “However, tragedy is not a basis for liability in a court of law, and the determined and professional actions of the Police Department in this case should be commended and must be defended.”

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department took a similar stance Tuesday.

“These allegations are not made with regard to the true facts of what happened, and we believe that once the true facts are known that Pierce County will be found blameless,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Citing agency policy, Corrections Secretary ldon Vail declined to comment on specific allegations the lawsuit raises against his agency.

“But at the time of this tragic event, Adhahn had been off supervision for 10 years,” Vail said in a news release.

Sherry Hill, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social and Health Services, declined to comment, saying agency officials had not had a chance to review the lawsuit.

Adhahn is serving life in prison without the possibility of release after pleading guilty to killing Zina and raping two other girls. Adhahn, a convicted sex offender, avoided the death penalty by leading authorities to the Zina’s body eight days after she was abducted.

The suit contends the state, county and city had numerous chances to stop Adhahn, a native of Thailand, and could have recommended him for deportation after a second criminal conviction in 1992.

“Yet multiple government agencies allowed him to slip through the cracks, failing to adequately treat, supervise, classify, report or track Adhahn,” the suit states.

Citing public records obtained by Firkins, the suit contends:

• The Corrections Department failed to properly supervise Adhahn after his 1990 conviction for incest. While under state supervision, Adhahn violated his probation by consuming alcohol and racking up a second conviction in 1992 for pointing a handgun at a man outside a bar.

“The DOC did nothing,” the suit states.

• DSHS failed to investigate reports Adhahn was sexually abusing a teenage girl who lived with him.

“The report was never assigned a risk level, and DSHS undertook no further investigation – they did not check the sex offender registry, check Adhahn’s criminal record, or do a home visit.”

• The Sheriff’s Department, Tacoma police and state corrections officers did not monitor Adhahn to make sure he was registering his address with authorities as required of convicted sex offenders.

“Failure to register is a Class C felony, but when Pierce County officials discovered in 2002 that Adhahn had not registered for 12 years, he was not charged, cited or punished – he did not even receive a slap on the wrist,” the suit states.

PREVIOUS POST: The family of a Tacoma girl snatched from the alley behind her Hilltop home and killed by a convicted sex offender three years ago is set to file a lawsuit today against the state of Washington, Pierce County and the city of Tacoma.

An attorney for the relatives of Zina Linnik claims in a news release issued today that  the defendants “made numerous” errors in the supervision of Terapon Adhahn that allowed him to kill the 12-year-old girl.

The family “hopes to change existing laws and to close loopholes for sex offenders,” the news release states.

More to follow.

Leave a comment Comments → 39
  1. Tuffgal74 says:

    Mudbone…She was 12, not 2. Are you suggesting that parents who let their 12 yr old children play outside, unsupervised be jailed?

  2. LibertyBell says:

    Oh yea mudbone, who was the complete moron who let the convicted sex offender out?
    Fix the problem or pay, that sterilization case could only confuse em in Tacoma

    The attack is not upon the procedure, but upon the substantive law. It seems to be contended that in no circumstances could such an order be justified. It certainly is contended that the order cannot be justified upon the existing grounds. The judgment finds the facts that have been recited, and that Carrie Buck

    is the probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspring, likewise afflicted, that she may be sexually sterilized without detriment to her general health, and that her welfare and that of society will be promoted by her sterilization,

    and thereupon makes the order. In view of the general declarations of the legislature and the specific findings of the Court, obviously we cannot say as matter of law that the grounds do not exist, and, if they exist, they justify the result. We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11. Three generations of imbeciles are enough. [p208]

    But, it is said, however it might be if this reasoning were applied generally, it fails when it is confined to the small number who are in the institutions named and is not applied to the multitudes outside. It is the usual last resort of constitutional arguments to point out shortcomings of this sort. But the answer is that the law does all that is needed when it does all that it can, indicates a policy, applies it to all within the lines, and seeks to bring within the lines all similarly situated so far and so fast as its means allow. Of course, so far as the operations enable those who otherwise must be kept confined to be returned to the world, and thus open the asylum to others, the equality aimed at will be more nearly reached.

  3. harleynlacey says:

    They live in Hilltop, ever been to the lovely area? She was not out playing, she was walking home from a friends house.
    Yeah, should of, could have, would have – but the bottom line is it happened. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, there will be families that have no other choice but to live in these neighborhoods. As parents it is our responsibility to keep our children safe.

  4. reader1968 says:

    She was in an alley behind her house, and friends and adults were nearby. Adhahn was brazen. The parents are not the ones to blame here, good grief.

  5. leftybender says:

    Maybe they should sue the people who fight for the rights of convicted sex offenders. That’s the real crime.

  6. I find it interesting the family and their attorney originally stated when they filed civil claims a year ago they had no desire for money or to file a lawsuit, but that they only wanted to get information and a ‘discussion’ from government officials about what had happened. Yet, here they are preparing for a lawsuit for megabucks on the ‘coulda, shoulda, mighta’ theory.

    Sound vaguely familiar? Give it some time for the dust to die down and you can bet we’ll be seeing a resurrection of some other recently filed and supposedly withdrawn claims by individuals who profess to not wanting ‘one red cent’.

  7. Tuffgal74 says:

    harleynlacey…I have been to hilltop. Quite frequently, actually. Have you?
    And yes, I let my child play outside there…gasp!!

  8. teresa5291 says:

    A 12 yo girl doesn’t need to be supervised like a 2 yo! It was not “unreasonable” for a 12 yo to be outside at that time of night in the summertime alone. She was close to her house, too. I think the real question should be, why are they sueing after all this time? Why is it that everyone blames everyone else when something tragic happens?

  9. teresa5291 says:

    oh yeah, I work in Hilltop, walk out of my job at night, in the dark!!! Oh and I live in Lakehood and allow my son to play outside out of my sight. What can you do? lock your kids up and never let them out? unreasonable. these parents did nothing wrong, but sueing???? not sure I agree with that one.

  10. Honestly, it was the 4th of July. She was with a group of kids watching the fireworks, in the alley right behind her house. (If you live in central/North Tacoma you know the alley areas are like a cul de sac, this is where all the kids play) She was 12 years old.

    I’m sure that blaming the parents probably makes you feel better because you think it couldn’t ever happen to you. What happened had nothing to do with the neighborhood she lived in. Adhahn lived in Spanaway and drove all the way to Tacoma to victimize this child.

  11. The sad thing is that our kids can’t be left alone. We have 2 new convicted felons in our area – we live in a beautiful neighborhood, but low income is not far away where these two nut cases are at. These parents should not be on trial by the public, they are feeling a huge loss. Everyone allows their kids (at 12 especially) to have SOME leeway…..they go to the mall, to the bowling alley, walk to their school, etc. She wasn’t a first grader and the blame needs to be placed squarely on this criminal.

  12. katrina1 says:

    I, for one, am tired of seeing lawsuit after lawsuit against our government for their lack of protecting us. If you have children watch them – know where they are and ensure that they are safe. Stop trying to blame the government for what was your responsibility to start with. It is tragic and sad that this little girl was killed – but put the blame on the person that did it – not on the backs of the citizens, because that’s what these lawsuits do. Pierce County and the State of Washington DID NOT kill this little girl.

  13. I’m glad this subject is causing a lot of conversation but sorry to see that nothing but garbage is being said. Yes, it is the responsiblity of the parent to watch their children and yes, some of these parents are so screwed up that they really should not be parents at all. Suing the city is completely out of the question. Hilltop, Lakewood, Tacoma, Parkland, Spanaway, Univ Place, etc, all have good and bad areas and good and bad people, live with it or get the heck out of the state.

  14. The lack of supervision of violent criminals by government and law enforcement is what may have led to the rape, torture and death of Zena Linnik. Civil lawsuits like these seek justice for the victim and their families. The last thing they want is for this to happen (G-d forbid) to another child.

  15. It’s time we all stop blaming the victim and their families for asking and holding government agencies accountable to do their job which is to protect society from violent criminals.

  16. jiminycricket says:

    Maybe a $50 million dollar judgement against the city, county and state will affect better supervision of violent convicts so that this doesn’t happent again! More power to them!

  17. The real question pending is: Who will be the next Zena Linnik?

  18. curiousasacat says:

    The controversy over the whole sex offender program, if you could call it that which implies some thought went into it, has been going on for way too long and way too many innocent children have suffered. Maybe it took this long to file a suit because of all the red tape required for the public to sue the public officials to get them to if not protect us, then at least not throw us into the lions den (transient supervision hahaha) Money talks God Bless the ones already victimized and God Bless the future victims that are to be sacrificed.

  19. interWOLFone says:

    I would back them, and other families who hope to implement beneficial changes in the criminal justice system. So long as they were suing for change, rather than for monetary gain.

  20. curiousasacat says:

    How is it that they shouldn’t gain monetarily? Is a dead child worth less than a whip lash?

  21. interWOLFone says:

    However…it is the primary duty and the responsibility of every parent to properly supervise their children. This little girl was apparently snatched in an alley as she went to watch some neighbors shooting off fireworks, as I recall.

    What was a 12 year old girl doing alone in an alley?

    I would agree with yid that there is a marked lack of supervision of these sex offenders…but I would add that there is a marked lack of parental supervision of children in too many neighborhoods.

    Yesterday, I nearly ran over a little Latino boy of about 3 or 4 years of age in the parking lot of the Marketplace grocery store in Lakewood. As I began to turn into the parking area, this child ran out into the aisle from between two parked cars. I tend to drive at a snail’s pace in these parking lots, so I avoided flattening him.

    I got out of my truck and walked over to the car I saw the tot run to. His mother was sitting in the car blabbing on a cell phone. I pointed out that I had nearly ran over her child, and asked her to please keep better track of him.

    She flipped me off and told me what to go do with myself. I was discussing this with the checker, who told me that every day families came into the store, and the parents went one way and their little ones went another way.

    While mommy and daddy were in the produce dept., little Jr. was in the wine section breaking bottles.

    Parents…KEEP TRACK OF YOUR KIDS!

  22. interWOLFone says:

    It isn’t the responsibility of the State to babysit children. It is the responsibility of the parent to supervise their own children.

    Where do you think the monetary settlement comes from when the State is sued, curiousasacat?

    The tax payers. Why should the tax payers take it in the rear just because parents let their little girls run loose in Tacoma alleys?

  23. interWOLFone says:

    Jiminycricket…our LEO’s are understaffed, underfunded and vastly outnumbered by the criminal element.

    How do you suggest that our criminal justice system should supervise every violent criminal walking our streets?

  24. curiousasacat says:

    Sorry to have stepped on some toes. If I had an answer to this overwhelming problem, I would be a miracle worker. Maintaining a facility to house those who do not have housing could be one direction, and I am not talking about luxury here. Yes the general public pays the taxes that pay the law suit. This sounds like a squeaky wheel to me. Ultimately, it is us that are all responcible for the government….
    If an insurance company pays out, it is we that support the company. Choose an insurance company = choose a party.. God help us all At least we do have the ability to use this forum to relieve some frustration.

  25. If Government agencies would just do their job Zena Linnik would be alive today. Is that too much to ask?

  26. curiousasacat says:

    Sueak for Zena

  27. is it too much to ask?!?!?!

  28. DAKOTANATIVE says:

    Let every person in the county or state pay because an illegal alien was not paying taxes so we could afford to keep these scumballs locked up. Great!

  29. bullman120 says:

    interWOLFone strikes again.
    hails the government/police and blames the victims. I am curious while complaining about a toddler you felt compelled to mention that the baby was latino? sounds like you define people by the color of their skin. sounds like interwolfone should be interRACISTone!

  30. jimkingjr says:

    Another “it’s not the money, we want change”- yeah, a LOT of change, of the silver and gold type. You want to change policy, you get lobbyists, not shyster lawyers. But that doesn’t get you money, does it?

  31. Jim, it would be a huge change for government officials to do their job properly. The laws and policy are in place. All they have to do is follow them. If they fail then they should be held accountable with monetary judgments that are fair and reasonable.

  32. fivecardstud says:

    I don’t blame them. Can’t figure out why they didn’t do it before. The bleeding heart liberals of this state think it’s not that big a deal to take someones life in this state, even burutally isn’t that bad to them. Look at that guy who slit the cab drivers throat, he got 28yrs. 28 yrs. for brutally cutting a mans throat and tossing his body in the street. You know he’ll be out way before that and the poor cabby, oh well. They need to send a message that we’re tired of having all these people keep offending and re-offending without no real punishment. That guy that killed Zina Linnick shouldn’t have been here anyway, He should have been deported yrs ago but again, oh well. It’s time to pay the piper.

  33. libra_girl says:

    Sueing the state is not a way to get the system changed! Granted the system doesn’t work all the time, but if they have to pay out millions of dollars for lawsuits such as this, where is the money going to come from? It’ll come from our all ready strapped funds (which could cause cutbacks to afford it) or it will come straight out of our own tax paying pockets. Rather than take money out of an already financially strapped system, lobby and petition for more funds to help get it fixed. We need more LEO’s to keep track of these animals, and the only way to do that is more money – not less.

  34. reaper14all says:

    Law suit won’t do anything unless they are specific to a person and not an entity. Like for the police officers therw was a fund set up for the family so should they give back that money? Can’t blame the courts (unless the judge gives a slap on the hand,) or the officers, parole officers because they have to follow the RCW and any federal laws that pertain to the criminal act. Want change, write an Initative and work to make it become law. Granted, our state has a way to erase those but if enough public support support it they would be likely to keep it in the books. I do believe that if one kills another (other than self denfese,) then they should get what they delt out. Problem solved. You get what you reap.

  35. It will all come out eventually (and again), but the killer in this case was not subject to being deported, as some have said. He was a legal U.S. citizen and neither Tacoma nor Pierce County could do anything about his status. The allegations against the city and county are unsupportable on many levels.

    The state DOC on the other hand does have a potential problem in the area of oversight for someone on the sexual offenders list and of making sure they are properly monitored and their current addresses are valid and registered.

    Naming everyone in a lawsuit in a shotgun style just because they have money is not right and the family’s attorney knows he’s targeting the wrong parties. Unfortunately, it will still cost the City and the County time and money to defend this and hopefully be dismissed at some point, but that won’t get the taxpayers their money back.

    It would be nice if the attorney has to pay the costs of all those he improperly named and dragged into the lawsuit, but the law doesn’t allow that…so he walks away scott-free after creating the mess.

  36. jimkingjr says:

    yid- how do monetary judgments paid by the taxpayers hold any government official or employee accountable? This is just about picking OUR pockets, not about accountability nor changing any policies. More greed, and they should be slapped by the public just as hard as the fallen officers’ greedy families were.

  37. Tuffgal74 is clueless!

  38. frankiethomas says:

    tck he was not a legal US citizen. He was a legal alien and thus could have been deported – if you are here legally and become a problem you certainly CAN be sent back.

  39. snarlingwolf says:

    I raised my family as a single parent . When my child and his friend were shot and four days later his friends cousin was shot and killed, by a wanna be gangsta and his buddies at the Arbies in Kent on Cornucopia days. No one came to my rescue except Harbor View hospital, the Kent police, the Paramedics and the STATE. However the investigation is still not over, though I did hear that he had been caught after an intense search. I hope he rots in jail and bubba gets his jollies. This kid has no respect for human life, is a disgrace to the human race and he has ruined my family. However my son and his friend will graduate, but my son will not be the same forever and my life shall be forever changed, by one gun and two bullets in the hands of a maniacal kid who could never know the love, a man has for his son. He will only know the same bullsh_t that got him in jail in the first place. He will be the same person after he gets out. But if the Parole board lets him out early I will personally see to it that they, whomever they are tried for the crime of complicity to Murder….

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