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Originally published September 7, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Page modified September 8, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Manager of drug-treatment center charged with attempted child rape

David Scratchley, manager of a Seattle drug-treatment center, was charged Wednesday with attempted first-degree child rape and communication with a minor for immoral purposes for allegedly planning a sexual assault on a 10-year-old boy last week.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Editor's note:

Commenting has been disabled because of the sensitive nature of this story and because many previous comments about the subject violated our terms of service.

David Scratchley, manager of a Seattle drug-treatment center, was charged Wednesday with attempted first-degree child rape for allegedly planning a sexual assault on a 10-year-old boy.

Scratchley, 52, is being held at the King County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail. He also was charged with communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

His arraignment was scheduled for Sept. 21.

Scratchley was arrested at his Belltown apartment last Thursday after a woman called police and said she feared he was planning to rape the boy.

Police found the child inside Scratchley's apartment building and took him to Harborview Medical Center for an examination. Investigators have not said whether they believe the child had been sexually assaulted, but the charges indicate there is no evidence that he had been. It's not clear whether the boy was returned to his mother.

Police said the boy told them he had been allowed to spend time alone with Scratchley several times. On some of these occasions, including Thursday, Scratchley talked to him about sex, the boy said, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

The woman who contacted police Thursday told investigators Scratchley had "talked about sexual fantasies that he had about children and told her that he had sexually abused children in the past," Seattle police Detective Susana DiTusa wrote in the affidavit.

Police said the woman "led Scratchley to believe that she was a willing participant in the events he was planning with the victim," according to the affidavit.

The woman met police at Scratchley's apartment building on Thursday and told officers that the boy was coming down the elevator to meet her, according to the affidavit. Police said they then talked to the boy, who identified Scratchley as a "friend."

The boy told police that he saw "little white rocks" on the counter of Scratchley's home that day, and police reported that they found suspected cocaine inside the home.

Scratchley is clinical manager of the treatment program at the Matt Talbot New Hope Recovery Center in Seattle, an outpatient facility for adults. Police said Scratchley met the 10-year-old boy through his mother while she was somehow connected with the program.

King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carol Spoor wrote in charging documents that after his arrest Scratchley told court officials he had been depressed and using crack cocaine for the past three months. DiTusa wrote in her affidavit there is a "concern for other potential victims in the community."

However, Scratchley has not been linked to any other crimes.

Since his arrest, Scratchley's professional history has been called into question and the state Department of Health has launched an investigation.

In the more than two decades he has worked in Seattle, Scratchley has been regarded as a local expert on substance abuse and addictions.

Scratchley claimed to be a psychologist, but the Department of Health said that was untrue. State law prohibits people from calling themselves psychologists unless they've obtained such a credential from the Department of Health.

The only state health license Scratchley holds is as a certified chemical dependency professional trainee, issued in 2009.

Greg Alex, executive director at the Matt Talbot center in Belltown, said he is certain the center ran a background check on Scratchley before he was hired. In a Tuesday interview, Alex defended Scratchley, his friend of 15 years.

"He's always operated with the highest level of professionalism and care for the clients," said Alex.

Before working at the Matt Talbot center, Scratchley:

• Lectured part time at Seattle University from 1988 until 2002, according to the university.

• Worked at Seattle Children's hospital from 2002 to 2004 in an administrative role in a research program — away from patients, a hospital spokeswoman said.

• Worked at Kirkland-based Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers between August 2004 and March 2005 to create a treatment program. He had no patient contact, one official said.

At some point, Scratchley also worked at Seattle Children's Home, Alex said on Tuesday. The agency has not returned repeated calls seeking comment.

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, which oversees the Matt Talbot center, has placed Scratchley on administrative leave while the investigation continues, according to a news release.

At the Matt Talbot center, Scratchley had little contact with patients, Alex said. He consulted with staff about their work with patients and did some patient assessments, Alex said.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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