A violent sex offender who fled Canada pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a harassment charge in Seattle as police explored the possibility of additional charges related to a sexual assault.
Wearing a red jail uniform with his hands shackled in front of him, Michael Sean Stanley made a first appearance by video feed from the local detention centre. Seattle Municipal Court Judge Karen Donohue set his bail at $100,000.
Nic Gross, the public defender appearing for Stanley, sought his release and suggested that Stanley could be required to check in daily if the court wanted those conditions.
Gross said that Stanley has an uncle and a cousin in the area who could get him work as a labourer, but Donohue questioned those family links and said the circumstances of his flight raised concerns about whether he would show up for future court hearings.
“The court does have concerns with the lack of ties Mr. Stanley has to Seattle,” Donohue said.
The harassment case came from an incident Tuesday morning in which police say Stanley threatened someone who asked him to be quiet. Authorities are still working to rebook Stanley on more serious charges, saying he is being investigated for assaulting a 16-year-old boy.
In the assault case, authorities allege Stanley met a boy at a west Seattle grocery store, struck up a conversation and walked with him to an alley where he plied the teen with alcohol and attacked him. The boy pulled a knife and was able to escape, police said.
Stanley had registered as a sex offender with the King County sheriff’s office and listed his address as an intersection just a block away from Seattle’s Pike Place Market, a scenic destination for both tourists and locals. It’s also near a preschool, even though he had been ordered to stay away from children in Canada.
Ilene Stark, executive director at Pike Market Child Care and Preschool, said the community felt threatened by Stanley’s arrival in the area. The preschool reviewed its lockdown plan, kept in constant contact with security in the area, and provided images and descriptions of Stanley to teachers and parents.
“It’s been intense,” Stark said. “It felt like there was a threat in our community and that we needed to be much more vigilant — more than in everyday life. It was disconcerting.”
Stark said she was saddened that something horrible apparently had to happen before Stanley was collected by U.S. law enforcement. At the same time, she said her sadness was coupled with relief knowing that there is more legal control over Stanley’s whereabouts.
Detectives believe the attack on the teen happened before police received several calls reporting noise in an alley and Stanley threatening someone who asked him to be quiet. When police arrived, Stanley became combative and said he had a knife. He appeared intoxicated, according to authorities. He was arrested and jailed for investigation of harassment.
Stanley most recently served a 32-month prison term after what parole documents say was a case in which he lured two mentally challenged boys into an apartment, lit a crack pipe and blew smoke in their faces and then sexually assaulted them.
Parole documents also detail the sexual assault of an elderly woman and outline charges he exposed himself to kids.
He was being monitored by police under a peace bond, which Canadian authorities can get to impose conditions on individuals in the community. Stanley’s peace bond has 20 conditions, including one ordering him to stay away from children.
Police in Canada issued a public alert earlier this month after Stanley cut off his electronic-monitoring bracelet. Officials described him as an untreated, violent offender who posed a significant risk.
An American citizen, Stanley crossed the border and was located in the Seattle area last week. Canadian officials decided not to seek extradition.
Before Tuesday, there was no reason to arrest Stanley since Canada hadn’t pursued an extraditable warrant and he wasn’t wanted for any crimes in the United States, authorities said.
Edmonton police spokesman Chad Orydzuk said that Stanley’s arrest in Seattle was “unfortunate but we can’t provide comment. It’s not our file.”
“If he continues to break the law down south you can imagine how difficult it would be for us to comment if he broke the law in different jurisdictions in the States. For us to comment on that, we couldn’t keep up with that, if this was to continue,” he said.
Orydzuk said when Stanley breached the monitoring conditions in Edmonton, officials searched for him and notified the public and other agencies. Unconfirmed sightings of Stanley led schools in several west-central Saskatchewan communities to lock their doors and keep children inside.