Early-release felon held in Federal Way rape, assault
Seattle Times staff reporter
A felon who didn't report to the Department of Corrections after being conditionally released from jail in February was arrested Wednesday in connection with the alleged rape of a former girlfriend and assault on her 3-month-old baby in Federal Way.
Thomas Bienville, 36, who has convictions for rape, assault and attempting to elude police, was one of 82 felons the Department of Corrections (DOC) released on Feb. 23 because of overcrowding at the two King County jails.
It's unclear whether Bienville would still be in jail if he had not been released early. The maximum penalty for violating the terms of release is 60 days.
Other possible penalties include being required to meet more frequently with the community-corrections officer, write an apology to a victim or get additional drug or alcohol treatment.
The offenders, all on Washington's version of probation, had been jailed for violating the terms of their prison releases. Bienville was being held in the King County Jail after missing an appointment with his community corrections officer, the DOC said.
The agency freed the offenders without consulting the community corrections officers who supervised them or having the offenders appear before an administrative-hearing officer. A hearing officer typically decides how such violators are punished.
Upon their release, the offenders were told to report to their community corrections officers the following business day. Only 24 had shown up a week later. The DOC issued arrest warrants for those who didn't report.
A warrant for Bienville's arrest was issued on Feb. 27, DOC spokeswoman Mary Christensen said.
On Wednesday morning, a woman dialed 911 to report that Bienville, her ex-boyfriend, had hurt her child then raped her, Federal Way police spokeswoman Stacy Flores said.
A DOC officer said the baby suffered minor cuts and bleeding after being thrown. The woman and the baby were treated at a local hospital.
Officers arrested Bienville only a few blocks from the woman's apartment.
Jeff Weathersby, a DOC spokesman, said the agency is investigating what attempts were made to arrest Bienville.
"This is a horrible thing that happened," Weathersby said about the Federal Way incident.
Bienville is supposed to be supervised by the DOC sex offender unit in Pierce County.
He has a history of skipping meetings with his community corrections officers and having arrest warrants issued. This year alone, three warrants have been filed against him, the DOC said.
After the Feb. 23 releases, Gov. Christine Gregoire ordered the DOC to stop freeing offenders on conditional release.
Among those released, at least 21 had been convicted of assault, 15 for drug crimes, nine for burglary, three for rape and one for kidnapping.
The DOC resumed the conditional release program last month, with the governor's approval. Gregoire said she was most concerned about releases done solely because of jail overcrowding.
Conditional releases can be ordered for inmates whose new offenses are considered minor — such as missing a meeting with their community corrections officer — and with the agreement of the officer.
Last year, the DOC ordered 3,144 conditional releases. None of the offenders was released because of jail overcrowding, the agency said.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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