Rapist plans return despite arson strike


LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- Child rapist Joseph P. Gallardo said he will move back to his Lynnwood-area neighborhood despite the arson that destroyed his family's house.

Mr. Gallardo, 35, said Monday that he understands the anger of residents who have protested his planned return following his release from prison, but he claimed their emotions were stirred up by law enforcers and the media.

He blamed both for painting an unfair and inaccurate portrait.

"The media and the [Snohomish County, Wash.] sheriff's office created a monster more dangerous than I'm supposed to be," Mr. Gallardo said.

Mr. Gallardo's home, 20 miles north of Seattle, was destroyed Monday, hours after neighbors held a rally protesting his planned release from Twin Rivers Corrections Center in Monroe, Wash. The rally was triggered by a flier distributed by the sheriff's office calling Mr. Gallardo an "extremely dangerous, untreated sex offender with a high probability for re-offense."

While the fire altered Mr. Gallardo's plans to immediately move into the home where he lived before he went to prison, he said he still planned to move to the property. The house had been vacant and boarded up.

Snohomish County sheriff's spokesman Elliott Woodall said the department flier has been criticized for being too graphic. However, he said, "We are concerned that the man poses a threat. If we glossed over it and did not warn the public or gave an incomplete disclosure, we could probably be criticized for that, too."

Mr. Gallardo, who was released from prison Monday morning, claimed he has been wrongly characterized as a potential predator. He said he is innocent of the rape of a 10-year-old girl, for which he was sentenced to four years in prison. Mr. Gallardo said that he pleaded guilty to the charge because he was convinced that he could not win in front of a jury.

However, the director of the sex-offender-treatment program where Mr. Gallardo was imprisoned called him "one of the most dangerous people I have ever encountered. . . . He's got some pretty scary stuff going on," including violent sexual fantasies about children.

Mr. Gallardo was released from prison early for good behavior after serving fewer than three years of the sentence.

Mr. Gallardo was arrested in 1990 for the rape, which allegedly had happened three years earlier, after police found graphic drawings, writings and other material -- including some depicting violent acts against young girls -- in his home.

He claims that his work was taken out of context.

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