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Originally published Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Well-known Seattle counselor jailed in attempted child-rape case

A well-known Seattle counselor and head of a downtown drug-treatment center is being held without bail at the King County Jail after he was arrested for investigation of attempted child rape.

Seattle Times staff reporters

A well-known Seattle counselor and head of a downtown drug-treatment center is being held without bail at the King County Jail after he was arrested for investigation of attempted child rape.

David Scratchley, director of a Christian-based substance-abuse recovery center in Belltown, was booked into the jail early Friday.

He refused to attend his first court hearing on Saturday afternoon, where King County District Court Judge Arthur Chapman found probable cause to hold him on investigation of attempted rape of a child in the first degree and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Scratchley was ordered held without bail; he is scheduled to return to court Wednesday.

Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office, said Sunday that a charging decision will be made by Wednesday.

A law-enforcement source close to the investigation said Scratchley had attempted suicide and was being held in the section of the jail for mentally ill inmates.

Scratchley, 52, is suspected of attempting to rape a 10-year-old boy, according to police.

Scratchley directs the Matt Talbot New Hope Recovery Center and used to be clinical director at Seattle Children's Home, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mental-health needs of children and their families.

Police were called to Scratchley's home at 3:30 p.m. Thursday after a woman told officers he invited her over "so they could both sexually assault a child," Seattle police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said. Officers immediately responded to Scratchley's Belltown apartment building and found the boy.

Whitcomb said he did not know if the boy was sexually assaulted. The boy was taken to Harborview Medical Center for evaluation, police said.

The boy told officers that his mother knew Scratchley through the recovery center, and that he had been allowed to spend time alone with him on several occasions.

The boy said in an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case that Scratchley had promised "they were going to do fun things," but that first they were going to wait for the woman to arrive at Scratchley's home. The boy said Scratchley asked questions about sex that day and also promised to take him to an athletic-clothing shop to get him a birthday gift, Detective Susana DiTusa wrote in the affidavit.

The boy also told police Scratchley had asked him about sex in the past.

Scratchley sent the boy down the elevator to meet the woman, where officers found the youth, according to court documents. While the woman and the boy were talking with officers, Scratchley texted the woman to find out if she was "getting to know" the boy because they hadn't immediately returned to the apartment, DiTusa wrote in the affidavit. Police soon arrested Scratchley.

The woman showed police a stream of sexually explicit text messages she said she had received from Scratchley that day regarding the youth. In the messages, police said, the woman talked to a man named "Dave" about what they planned to do to the child, acts that included handcuffs and rape. The woman "led Scratchley to believe that she was a willing participant in the events he was planning with the victim," police said.

The woman told police that she's had a relationship with Scratchley for nearly two years and knew him from drug treatment, according to the affidavit. The woman said that she and Scratchley had an intimate relationship and had used crack cocaine and other drugs together. She said that he "talked about sexual fantasies that he had about children and told her that he had sexually abused children in the past," the affidavit says.

The woman, who was not identified by police, told officers that Scratchley told her about two young females with whom he had been having sex, the affidavit says.

Police searched Scratchley's home in the 2800 block of Western Avenue and found pornography that appeared to depict minors. Police found what what was suspected to be cocaine, the affidavit said.

The boy told police that Scratchley asked him about drugs. He also told police that he saw "little white rocks" on the counter in Scratchley's home that day, the affidavit said.

Police are investigating whether there are other possible victims, the source said.

Scratchley has no criminal history. He has been in court for issues regarding finances and for a 2006 divorce.

Officials at the Matt Talbot New Hope Recovery Center could not be reached for comment on Sunday. According to its website, the center was founded in 1985 and is headed by Scratchley, a "Clinical Psychologist and renowned Addictionologist." But according to the state Department of Health, he is licensed only as a chemical-dependency professional, not as a psychologist.

The site said that "our recovery and relapse prevention program addresses the physiology, psychology, and sociology of addiction." Matt Talbot Center is funded "by private donations from individuals, businesses, private foundations and trusts."

Scratchley also taught at Seattle University, worked at Seattle Children's hospital and has been lauded for his work in the treatment community, including recognition by the state Supreme Court, according to a Washington Association of Designated Mental Health Professionals newsletter from 2006.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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