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Originally published March 29, 2013 at 8:36 PM | Page modified March 30, 2013 at 8:03 AM

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Freed sex offender accused of rape days later

Less than a week after a judge allowed a convicted sex offender to walk out of jail on his personal recognizance, the man is accused of kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman at a trailer home in North Seattle.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Less than a week after a King County judge allowed a convicted sex offender to walk out of jail without having to post bail, prosecutors say the man kidnapped and raped an 18-year-old woman in North Seattle.

Ricky Lee Lewis, 55, is now charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree rape in connection with the March 20 incident. He was being held in King County Jail in lieu of $1.03 million bail.

The judge who allowed Lewis to go free on his personal recognizance six days before the alleged rape concedes he may have made a mistake.

“I’m sorry I was wrong, but that was my judgment at the time,” Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler said on Friday. “Judges take risks every day. The only way to avoid that would be to keep everybody in jail as long as possible, but that’s the easy way out.”

Kessler said that at the time he declined to set bail for Lewis and allowed him to go free, no evidence had been presented to him by prosecutors to indicate Lewis would commit a violent crime.

The prosecutor’s office declined to speak about the case, but directed a reporter to charging documents.

Lewis had been convicted of two rapes and had served 10 years in prison before he was released in 2003, according to court documents. He was labeled a Level III sex offender, indicating he was considered a high risk to reoffend.

Last year, Lewis stopped making his required weekly check-ins with the King County Sheriff’s Office. As a result, he was charged with failure to register as a sex offender, court records show.

When Lewis was summoned to court on March 14 to answer to the charge, prosecutors asked Kessler to set bail at $30,000, saying that Lewis’ failure to register demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with court orders and that he was a threat to the community, court documents say.

“The defendant is transient, does not have a fixed address and lacks ties to the community,” prosecutors wrote in their request for bail. “His failure to register as a sex offender demonstrates an unwillingness to comply with court orders and presents a threat to the community safety.”

Lewis, however, said that he’d lived in the area for 48 years and was receiving mental-health treatment. In addition, court records show it was the first time he had been charged with failing to register, a felony punishable by up to one year in jail.

Kessler granted Lewis’ request for release on personal recognizance and ordered Lewis to register as a sex offender, according to the documents.

Lewis then appeared in court the following week, on March 19, and asked that his next hearing be delayed until April because he was scheduled for ankle surgery, a request which was granted.

The next day, Lewis is accused of raping the woman.

The victim told Seattle police that she was walking in the 11700 block of Aurora Avenue North around 6 p.m. when Lewis pulled up to her in a black van and asked if she wanted a ride, charging documents allege.

When she told him she did not, “Lewis then quickly opened the door, grabbed (the victim) and pulled her into his van,” prosecutors wrote. The victim said she kicked Lewis and tried to get out of the van but could not unlock the door, the court documents say.

When Lewis arrived at his home, a trailer parked on a property in the 2000 block of North 143rd Street, he pulled the teen out of the van, grabbed her in a bear hug, clasped his hand over her mouth and carried her into the trailer, charging documents allege.

Lewis told the woman he had been “waiting for this to happen for a long time,” according to charging papers.

The woman was allowed to leave after the rape, but she left her socks and $20 in the trailer, she told police.

Later, she led police to Lewis’ trailer and positively identified him as the man who had assaulted her, prosecutors said. When questioned, a witness told police he had seen Lewis pick up a female and drag her into the trailer and had heard her screams for help, according to charging documents.

Lewis had been convicted of statutory rape in 1985 for forcibly raping a 15-year-old girl he’d lured to his apartment and of second-degree rape in 1993 after raping a woman he’d brought to his apartment, prosecutors say in court documents.

If convicted as charged, Lewis faces life in prison under the two-strike law for sex offenders.

Christine Clarridge can be reached at cclarridge@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8983.

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