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.