Gary Cherry, 49, lives in Washington State with a devoted wife and two children. Cherry, a mechanic, is a thrice-convicted rapist, and one of fewer than 300 men in the state to be labeled a “sexually violent predator.” The Seattle Times reports that as early as next month, he could have an even rarer distinction: he would be the first person to graduate from the state’s Special Commitment Center for sex offenders and become a completely free man.
In its 17-year history, no other resident has gained the center’s backing for an unconditional discharge. Cherry has gone through eight years of intense treatment at a cost to the public of about $1.2 million. “If he fails, it would be devastating to the public perception of treatment and the hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Henry Richards, center superintendent. “It’s unfair, but that’s the reality of how it’s being viewed.” Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury will watch Cherry closely. “I don’t think you can ever fix that sort of thing,” Salisbury said. “I’m just not buying this stuff [treatment] will make you better.”