Expert witness believes Coe not likely to reoffend - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Expert witness believes Coe not likely to reoffend

Dr. Theodore Donaldson said Coe is not likely to reoffend if released Dr. Theodore Donaldson said Coe is not likely to reoffend if released

SPOKANE, Wash. - The defense in Kevin Coe's civil commitment hearing took its turn in the courtroom Monday, calling an expert witness who said Coe is likely too old to re-offend.

Dr. Theodore Donaldson testified on Monday that Coe is a low risk to ever rape again.  He also said that just because a person has raped in the past does not mean they have a mental abnormality. 

Further, attorneys are highlighting the fact the hearing amounts to mental health proceeding to determine whether Coe suffers from a mental disorder that could cause him to rape again.  It is not a trial to prove whether he is guilty of more than the one rape on which he was convicted.  Coe's defense team argues Donaldson's testimony disproves the State's expert who said Coe is a sexual deviant and will rape again.

Donaldson's definition of a sexually violent predator is that a rapist must have a mental abnormality.  Last week, Dr. Amy Phenix, a psychologist and the State's star witness, said Coe suffered from a paraphilia and is excited by the non-consent aspect of the crime.  In fact, she said Coe's was one of the worse cases she had ever seen.

But on Monday, Donaldson said the pure definition of rape involved non-consensual sex.

"He wanted to co-op to get the victim to comply: take off her own clothes for example," Donaldson explained.  "That is inconsistent with someone who is aroused by non-consent.  If you're aroused by non-consent you don't want them to comply.  Non-compliance is a turn-on."

In perhaps a slip-up, Donaldson said he focused his diagnosis on the six original cases filed against Coe in the 1980s.  The problem was, the jury had never been told those six cases ever existed.  They weren't allowed in the trial because the judge ruled they could be prejudicial to Coe.

"He may not be a very nice person, but I'm very resistant to the idea of identifying that as a mental illness," said Donaldson.

Donaldson also said Coe's age was a big factor in his chances of reoffending.  He believes there is less than a 5 percent chance Coe would ever rape again.

On cross-examination the State grilled Donaldson on his qualifications and lack of balance when it comes to testifying only for the defense in these types of cases.  Prosecutors argued he leans heavily in favor of Coe.

"Even if we could show that Coe committed thousands of rapes, that would not be enough to show that he is aroused to non-consensual sex, correct?" asked a State attorney.

"Well, a thousand rapes is a little difficult," Donaldson responded.  "But - uh - if he committed a thousand rapes he probably didn't have time for anything but non-consensual, which would sound pretty bad.  But the fact of the rapes does not establish the motivation, no matter how many."

The jury also had questions for Donaldson.  They wanted to know if the sexual deviancy showed in 1981 could go into remission and resurface some 28 years later. 

The State plans to bring Dr. Phenix back to refute some of Donaldson's testimony.

On Tuesday, Coe's defense team will continue with its case.  They plan on calling Carolyn Black, a Coe family friend, to the stand and reading testimony from Gordon Coe from the earlier Coe trials.

It is possible Coe could take the stand again - this time under direct from his own lawyers instead of the State's as earlier in the proceedings.

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