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Shriner Sentenced in Sexual Mutilation of Boy

March 26, 1990

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ A man convicted of raping and sexually mutilating a 7-year-old boy was sentenced today to more than 130 years in prison, three times the standard term for the crime.

In sentencing Earl Shriner, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas R. Sauriol said the case left him more troubled and outraged than any in his 37- year legal career.

″I don’t think that I have ever heard of a case that borders on extreme cruelty more than this one,″ Sauriol said. ″The reality is, Mr. Shriner, you present a danger to the defenseless.″

Shriner, 40, has a long history of violence toward young people.

He was convicted Feb. 7 of first degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree rape and first-degree assault. The child was choked and his penis was cut off in the attack May 20 in a wooded area near his south Tacoma home.

The victim’s mother, Helen Harlow, dabbing her eyes and comforted by numerous friends, said she was satisfied with the sentence because it would in effect be a life sentence.

The attack created an uproar in the state about sex predators, and was one of the cases cited as being instrumental in passage of legislation to deal more strictly with them, including longer sentences, civil commitment and registration of sex offenders.

Under state law, the standard range for the offenses with someone of Shriner’s record is 34 years to 43 years, eight months. The approximately 131- year sentence was three times the high end of the standard range.

In reaching his sentence, which the defense said would be appealed, Sauriol accepted almost all the 13 aggravating factors cited by prosecutors as reasons to go above the standard sentence. But he rejected the state’s proposal for a sentence of more than 250 years - six times the maximum under standard sentencing guidelines.

The boy’s mother has said her son continues with his recovery, including reconstructive surgery. A trust fund of hundreds of thousands of dollars that poured in after the attack on the boy is paying for the surgery.

Shriner has a 24-year history of violent attacks on young people. He has been confined at Rainier School for the retarded; Western State Hospital, a mental institution; and the Washington Corrections Center.

The 7-year-old boy was found by neighbors after the attack, bloody, naked, covered with mud and practically incoherent. A fellow jail inmate testified during the trial that Shriner admitted mutilating the boy.