A convicted sex offender due to be released Saturday from prison after serving 11 months warned in letters that if set free, he would reoffend, even against children. In the letters, Michael McGill begged authorities to keep him locked up for life.
"Please throw the book at me ... I'm harmful to others I should be locked up for life," he wrote in block letters that resemble a child's writing. "I will sexual abuse men. Do this for the safe (sic) of others then I be able not to hurt anyone else. Judge I'm begging you to put me away."
In another place he wrote that he had told his two 7-year-old male victims, "I will do more sex crimes with boys 4 to 14.I will molest with boys 15 to 18."
Neither the Polk County attorney's office, which prosecuted McGill and distributed his letters to other agencies, nor the Iowa Board of Parole, nor the attorney general's office, which handles civil commitments for sexually violent predators, says it can do anything to prevent McGill's release.
McGill will at least initially be housed at the community-based Fort Des Moines Correctional Facility, which he won't be allowed to leave without an officer's escort. He is supposed to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet at all times and be under maximum supervision for 10 years. But is that enough?
His letters, spanning 22 pages, were obtained Thursday by The Des Moines Register. It's unclear whether he was addressing anyone in particular. They were written at some point after his latest arrest, in April 2008. Assistant Polk County Attorney Jeff Noble got them June 13, 2008, and sent them days later to officials at the Des Moines Police Department, the Iowa Board of Parole and the Iowa Department of Correctional Services. McGill, 50, wrote that his sexual offenses date to 1976 and that there were 15 victims.
Noble got McGill convicted of his latest offense, intent to commit sexual abuse. McGill tried to grab the penis of a 21-year-old man in a restroom at Valley West Mall on April 30, 2008. In a letter attached to McGill's letters, Noble wrote that in the very week that McGill was arrested for that crime, he had also been arrested for "viewing or attempting to view" under the stalls in a public men's room using a mirror. He pleaded guilty to criminal trespass and criminal mischief and was fined $100.
"He apparently maintained his position - that he is a danger to others and intends to reoffend - even after he was incarcerated," Noble wrote.
"Obviously," wrote Noble, "these letters are relevant to placement, treatment, parole, supervision, civil commitment and possibly further investigation into other crimes."
McGill's letters acknowledge both of the April 2008 incidents. McGill also wrote that among other incidents he:
• Was banned in 1990 from the "Gallery book store" for soliciting sex with young men.
• Was banned from "Younkys" downtown for having sex in a restroom with another man.
• Used a compact mirror in 1990 to look at the genitalia of a child in the next stall, then crawled underneath and had forcible sex with him.
• Approached a boy from behind at a urinal at Merle Hay Mall and molested him in the mid-'90s.
The accounts are sickening and scary.
In one letter, McGill writes: "The reason why I molest boys. It give me the thrill to be in control of their penises and tell them what to do. ..."
Yet all those involved in his case say they have no choice but to let him out.
The Iowa Board of Parole had no choice but to approve him for a parole release because he completed the 11 months required on a special 10-year sentence created by the Iowa Legislature, according to executive director Clarence Key Jr. That sentence dictates the supervision he will get after release. Iowa law provides for civil commitment for certain sexually violent predators who have completed their criminal sentences but are considered too dangerous to be out in society.
A five-member Prosecutors Review Committee, appointed by the attorney general, and the county prosecutor who handled the case decide whether to pursue a civil-commitment hearing, according to Bob Brammer, spokesman for the Iowa attorney general's office.
Brammer said the committee referred McGill's case to a psychologist who examined McGill and reviewed his records and determined he did not meet the criteria for a civil commitment. He said without the psychologist finding the need for civil commitment, the committee cannot proceed with it.
A multidisciplinary team appointed by the director of the Department of Correctional Services reached the same conclusion, Brammer said.
Among the criteria, the person must suffer from a mental abnormality that makes him or her likely to engage in predatory acts,
and must have been charged with or convicted of a sexually violent offense. Brammer said McGill's record contains three other arrests, one for indecent exposure.
Brammer said the psychologist, whom he did not name, was aware of McGill's letters.
Beth Barnhill heads the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault and sits on the multidisciplinary committee. She said the civil-commitment law is written so narrowly that few sex offenders meet the criteria. "Yes, I think the public is at risk," she said of McGill's release.
Barnhill says there is more leverage for holding someone like McGill longer if the original charge is for a higher-level offense or more than one offense.
Asked why McGill's two April 2008 offenses weren't combined for a higher-level offense, Noble said that criminal mischief and criminal trespass are simple misdemeanors, which are nonindictable.
Is he concerned about McGill's release?
"Any sex offender in the community is a concern, some more than others," is all Noble would say.