West Seattle Crime Watch followup: ‘Flasher’ suspect Duane Atwood pleads not guilty

The convicted sex offender charged in a recent West Seattle “flasher” incident and under investigation in at least two others was back in court today. 37-year-old Duane Atwood pleaded not guilty to the charges of felony indecent exposure and failing to register as a sex offender. His lawyer’s request to restrict the news media from photographing Atwood’s face was granted. His next court appearance is set for September 16th; Atwood remains jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail, and while his lawyer did not ask the judge to reduce it, they reserved the right to make that request in the future.

We first reported Atwood’s arrest almost three weeks ago; police tracked him through license-plate information given by a woman who reported that she was called over to an SUV parked near Cormorant Cove Park on Beach Drive, and saw a man inside it, exposing and holding his privates. We originally learned of her case via her comment on one of our reports about two similar incidents days earlier. While he posted bond and got out of jail the day he was arrested, his bail was raised and he was re-arrested the day charges were filed, and has been behind bars ever since.

Atwood is a Level 2 Sex Offender because of a 2001 conviction for a burglary/arson with sexual motivation. At the time of our first reports on this case, we didn’t have much information on that case, because King County’s online court records don’t go back that far. The case was very briefly summarized in the charges filed against him last month, but that still left many questions unanswered. We have since obtained dozens of pages of court documents related to the case, from the original charges to the plea bargain to the sentence.

Two felony charges were filed against Atwood on October 27, 2000. He was 23 years old. Three days earlier, the documents say, he committed arson and burglary at an apartment building in the 4500 block of Admiral Way, and “one of the purposes for which the defendant committed this crime was for the purpose of his sexual gratification.”

The probable-cause document attached to the charging papers – basically, a police-written summary — says two women in their 20s lived in the apartment and called 911 just after 6:30 in the morning on October 24, 2000.

One told police “she woke up at about 6 am and took a shower. When she walked into the living room from her bedroom, she could see and hear smoke coming from the deck. (She) then called 911 to report the fire. (She) noticed that someone had written the word “Rape” on the sliding-glass door with an unknown substance. (She) said that the front door was standing open and that there was a piece of soiled clothing on the porch. (She) also noticed that there were small pictures of nude women on the front door and on the window. Inside the apartment (she) noticed that the cover to her sewing kit had been removed.” The report went on to say that the other woman “came out of her bedroom when she heard (her roommate) screaming her name. (She) saw the smoldering fire on the deck.” Heading outside, she “saw what she thought was charcoal burning up against the wall of the apartment.” She also subsequently noticed that her purse was missing, and a closet had been gone through. Shortly thereafter, she got a phone call from a man who she said, the probable-cause document continues, told her “that he was responsible for the fire.” He knew her name and that she lived on Admiral Way, and then made a sexual threat, including “I’m coming back for you” and saying he had been watching her and her roommate.

The items police found included not only pornographic photos but also sex-aid substances and “a charred bag of charcoal briquettes … up against the wall of the apartment, under a window (with) evidence of fire and smoke damage.” The victims’ caller-ID device revealed the number of a pay phone from which the “I’m coming back for you” call had been made; fingerprints on the phone were matched to Atwood, who they found at his then-workplace in The Admiral District. The document says he confessed to police during a subsequent interview at an SPD facility. He claimed he was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine at the time. He acknowledged climbing up to the apartment’s deck and starting the fire, after which he rubbed up against the sliding glass door. The narrative says, “the fire started to get big, so he decided to leave (and) walked to his girlfriend’s house.” No one was there, so he walked back to the victims’ apartment and broke in, stealing some items and leaving when he heard an alarm.

Bail for Atwood was set at $100,000. In March 2001, he pleaded guilty to arson and burglary. As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors agreed not to charge him in two other cases. We have not yet obtained the police reports in those cases, as it is a more-complicated procedure than the one we followed to get the court documents from the case in which he was charged; both occurred in 2000, according to the SPD incident numbers. His record at the time, according to documents prepared for the sentencing hearing, included only two misdemeanor convictions from the mid-’90s, negligent driving and hit-and-run. In April 2001, Judge Michael Hayden sentenced him to the state’s recommendation, 26 months in prison, with credit for the six months he already had served in jail. He also was ordered to be in community custody – probation – for at least three years afterward. Probation came with a list of 15 requirements, including getting sexual-deviancy therapy and abstaining from drug/alcohol use.

A document we obtained from the file alleges that he had a hearing in November 2002 – seven months after he got out of prison – for allegedly violating his probation by using cocaine in October 2002. The circumstances were not detailed. He pleaded guilty to the violation and was ordered to attend three 12-step meetings weekly.

One final document we obtained was a progress report on the treatment he received from a Seattle firm specializing in sex offenders, addressed to his probation officer with a West Seattle address. That document included a note that he went back to jail for a month in early 2003 after disclosing more probation violations involving alcohol, drugs, and pornography. It summarized him as “present(ing) a significant reoffense risk.”

At some point, he moved out of the area and lived for a while in Idaho; records there show a misdemeanor drug conviction in 2009. Investigators here say he returned to Seattle in late 2010 but did not re-register as a sex offender as he is required to do. He has appeared on the register since the filing of charges in this case.

His next hearing is set for 1 pm September 16th, a routine “case-setting hearing.” While the initial charging documents in this case said prosecutors expected to charge him soon in connection with alleged threats against a longtime acquaintance, that hasn’t happened so far.

26 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch followup: 'Flasher' suspect Duane Atwood pleads not guilty"

  • Big G August 13, 2014 (6:45 pm)

    The guy who was “falling” into women but really groping them at Lincoln Park a few years ago was also named Duane.

    What are the odds?

    Put the Duanes in the same cell and throw away the key.

  • TBone August 13, 2014 (7:05 pm)

    Wow, is all I can say… What a troubled soul. Hope there is help and direction for such a life, and hope in the interim, there is protection from him…

  • newnative August 13, 2014 (9:19 pm)

    I haven’t seen a photo of him yet.

    • WSB August 13, 2014 (9:21 pm)

      The only photo in circulation is his 2002 state prison mug shot. It’s in one of our earlier stories linked above.

  • Mike August 13, 2014 (9:31 pm)

    It’s people like him that I will risk my life to protect my family from. He’s safer behind bars, keep him there, people like me won’t be so lenient on him like these judges.

  • WestofJunction August 13, 2014 (9:44 pm)

    Surprised he doesn’t want to show his face when he evidently seems willing to show other parts.

  • newnative August 14, 2014 (2:57 am)

    Thanks. I have been following this story but must have missed that day. I wonder why we can’t get a more current photo.

  • S August 14, 2014 (8:23 am)

    What is the BS about “…His lawyer’s request to restrict the news media from photographing Atwood’s face was granted…”. He is a sex offender and we have the right to see a photo of this scum to protect us and our families.

  • wsearesident August 14, 2014 (12:24 pm)

    I know the man and would never have guessed he had these issues. I wasn’t aware of the full scope of his issues from 2000 and am very shocked. He was a kind caring good man. At least the man I thought I knew. I hope that the state will help him get better and his real friends will be with him to help him fight his demons and get back to being a functioning member of society. Draging his name through the mud any more than people already have won’t help any or make things better for him or his family. Please if you have any decency leave his family and friends alone through this horrible time in their lives.

  • Prometheus August 14, 2014 (12:42 pm)

    He is behind bars. I doubt he presents a significant threat to you or your families.

  • WestofJunction August 14, 2014 (1:39 pm)

    Seriously, wsearesident? We are not talking about someone who is inflicting harm on themselves – we are talking about a dangerous sex offender that jeopardizes the safety of the people where he lives/travels to. He has not completed treatment nor reformed in the yeears since his conviction. He is pleading innocent – which means that he is not willing to be held accountable for his actions.

  • Guy Olson August 14, 2014 (5:11 pm)

    Really? The dude exposed himself to a grown woman. Calm down people! He did some other really stupid stuff when he was young. You talking or texting while driving is a whole lot more dangerous. Also, your speeding to Starbucks in your SUV in the morning is a whole lot more of a danger than the actions of this “flasher”. Calm down!

  • Gatewood resident August 14, 2014 (9:26 pm)

    Do we know if this man is connected to the “flasher” incidents at Holy Rosary and Westside Schools in the fall of 2013?

    • WSB August 14, 2014 (9:37 pm)

      No, we do not. The original charging papers from two weeks ago stated that he was under investigation in connection with “two other incidents of indecent exposure that occurred in the same area within a short time period of the currently charged incident.” Ostensibly that refers to the ones near Hiawatha and Myrtle Reservoir parks earlier in July, both reported here. He has not been charged in those, though, nor in anything else so far, although those charging documents mentioned a threats case in which prosecutors wrote at the time was likely to result in charges “shortly” – I am continuing to check the files, as we do with a couple dozen other defendants on our court-watch list. 0 TR

  • Alphonse August 14, 2014 (10:56 pm)

    Guy Olson wins for most disturbing criminal apologist comment in WSB history. I can’t prove that his comment is incorrect statistically, of course, because I don’t think there are any studies on the danger of setting someone’s apartment on fire in the hopes of raping them vs. texting while driving.

  • Mike August 14, 2014 (11:04 pm)

    “He did some other really stupid stuff when he was young”. Ya, like threatening the life of a young woman and threatening to rape her. Lock him up for good, throw out the key.

  • wsearesident August 15, 2014 (2:22 am)

    @WestofJunction I’m sorry but if you were in trouble and had a chance of not having to be in jail wouldn’t you plead not guilty. Big difference in that and innocent. He’s been in the area since 2010 with no insidents till December of 2013. He hasn’t hurt anyone physically. We’ve all done things or said things really stupid in our lives. With counciling those who were accosted by his actions will be able to recover. However those people whom are posting malicious things more than the court records have said show me one thing… You can’t fix stupid. Get off my back and the backs of his friends and family. When it comes to this guy no one knows anything. That includes myself.

    @Alphonse you’re holding something against a man that he did 14 years ago? grow up. this isn’t grade school or high school. we all have made some blunders in our lives but that doesn’t give you the right to judge the man on that. Again i say you can’t fix stupid. Get off my back and the backs of his friends and family. When it comes to this guy no one knows anything. That includes myself.

  • WestofJunction August 15, 2014 (7:07 am)

    He was 23 or so when he committed the acts which landed him in jail. An adult, so it was not a childish prank gone wrong. The nature of the crime speaks for itself. It was not a “stupid mistake” it was a sick and twisted sexually violent act directed toward women. He continues to deliberately do things to threaten women. His actions fall way, way outside the boundaries of normal behavior. He may do worse – men with these behaviors often do. Since he is not commiting a rational act, he is all the more dangerous because his behaviors are not predictable.

    He did not register – so as a supposedly mature adult he has not taken responsibility for his behavior. His family did not ensure that he lived up to his responsibilities, either.

  • S August 15, 2014 (8:13 am)

    @wsearesident – I don’t care if he did it 14 years ago or last week it is still and will never be acceptable to society to have sex offenders walking around your community. They are a danger to the fabric of a healthy community. If you had small children and some exposed themselves to them you would be out of you mind. and you are wrong about having no incidents since 2013, he failed to register as a sex offender as required by law.

  • thistle stairs August 15, 2014 (8:17 am)

    Violence against women, even implied violence, is beyond my forgiveness. There are almost 8 billion people on this lifeboat of a planet and supplies are running low. You can either bail, row or comfort the other passengers but if you attack the women and children you are going overboard.

  • T Rex August 15, 2014 (8:24 am)

    So Guy Olson, how would you feel if this guy exposed himself to a grown woman who happened to be your wife or perhaps your daughter? Would you feel the same way?

    Wise up and read the facts. Your comment was completely out of line.

  • Guy Olson August 15, 2014 (12:26 pm)

    The dude did stupid stuff when he was drunk and high. Everyone does stupid things when they are drunk. Did he actually rape one of those women? I know everyone is perfect on here.

  • Community Member August 15, 2014 (1:14 pm)

    Guy, you’ve read about the other incidents under investigation?

  • Thomas M. August 15, 2014 (1:21 pm)

    This dude is dangerous. More so than your average weenie wagger. Burglary, arson, threats of rape and possibly homicide are not real positive indicators of his character. If he wanted to stay out of trouble all he had to do was “nothing”. Since he can’t seem to keep his junk to himself, toss him in the hoosegow and let him re-evaluate his priorities. BTW nobody claims perfection, but how many here have done what this jerk has done?

  • T Rex August 15, 2014 (2:47 pm)

    Guy Olson,

    You did not answer my question. Here’s another one, how bout he does this to your MOTHER? Can you relate to how people feel about him now.

    Good Lord!

  • Guy Olson August 15, 2014 (5:37 pm)

    @T Rex: My mom would laugh her ass off!

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