The Los Angeles Times today profiles Edward Harvey Stokes, 48, described as one of the West’s most insatiable sexual predators. By his own count, he has assaulted scores of boys and young men over a generation. What sets Stokes apart from other serial sex offenders is his ability to escape prolonged incarceration in an era of habitual-offender laws and minimum sentences. Though often caught, he has never been stopped. Stokes has been convicted of felonies stemming from sexual assaults at least five times and has spent more than 20 years behind bars in four states. Yet each time, he has managed to avoid a lengthy prison term, get free again and find new victims.
“He appears to be like a giant teddy bear,” said Lynda Estes, a former Oregon sheriff’s detective who arrested Stokes in the early 1990s for allegedly sodomizing two teenage boys. “But he is evil to the core.” California authorities thought they had locked Stokes up for life for molesting a teenage runaway whom he held captive in a motel near Disneyland. But in April an appeals court overturned his conviction, setting him free. Within a week of his release, Stokes was back in jail in Oregon, arrested for allegedly providing false information on a driver’s license application. Prosecutors, determined not to let him loose again, filed sexual assault charges based on 8-year-old allegations. Stokes, who is being held without bail, is seeking to have the charges thrown out.