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'I've Been Treated Like A Monster'

4-16-2003 Washington:

ISLAND COUNTY - "People do think I'm a monster and I've been treated like a monster."

And this week, John Michael Isley's "monster" mug shot has been published throughout Island County. By law, a county must publish the name and photo of a dangerous registered sex offender when he plans to live there. Isley spoke exclusively with KOMO 4 News claiming it's a law that's "railroaded" him out of Island County.

Eleven years ago, when he was 15, he had sexual contact with a 13-year-old female cousin. He was charged with Indecent Liberties which means unwanted sexual contact but not sexual intercourse. After serving 52 weeks in a juvenile facility he has been considered, for a decade, a Level 1 sex offender, the least likely to re-offend.

But Island County decided this week, when it was learned Isley was moving to Oak Harbor, that the county considers him a Level 3 sex offender, the most dangerous level indicating a high potential to re-offend. By law, his picture and the street where he was planning to live were published.

"When I registered, the island railroaded me and sent me away," said Isley. He says the sudden change got him fired from the construction job he'd been commuting to for three weeks on Whidbey Island. "To go and change someone's level just to make sure they don't come to their island is not right," said Isley.

As the sheriff reads the law it is something he can do.

While Isley does have the one Indecent Liberties conviction, he also has a lengthy record of drug-related convictions including Assault, Theft, and Reckless Endangerment. In addition to the original sex offense he has four other felony convictions and 11 Gross Misdemeanors since 1992. The sheriff says the Island County Sheriff's Classification Review Board considered his entire criminal record to rate him a Level 3 Sexual Offender. He also says Isley didn't register in the county on time and that he had an outstanding warrant for a DUI.

"It's local control of our communities," said Sheriff Mike Hawley. "As the sheriff, I'm responsible for the public safety of this county and we look at individuals and how much of a risk they are."

"To give me a sex offender level of three is telling everybody hey, this kid is gonna come snatch your kids off the jungle gym," complained Isley. "That's not what my history talks about. My history talks about drugs."

For now, Isley says he will continue to live in Everett with his fiance and 7-year-old son where Snohomish County still considers him a Level 1 offender.

"I don't expect everybody to be happy with what I've done in my past and to pat me on the back. But you know I don't need to be tripped either because I am trying to go in the right direction now."

State law does give local counties the right to re-assess sex offender rankings.

Isley hopes to challenge the legality of changing his sex-offender status based largely on non-sex-related crimes. ..more.. by Kevin Reece, KOMO TV

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