SEATTLE - Some county officials are saying now is the time to act before another attack happens at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle.
Gayle Behrend, president of Lacey O’Malley Bail Bonds has been going to court regularly for decades.
"I’ve seen a huge change, and I’ve been here for 38 years Gayle says she felt safe working in this area, until a few years ago," says Gayle.
Her office is just a block away from court.
"I almost got attacked by someone today. I try to stay strong, I’m the boss, I’m a president, I have employees … it's very scary that it’s even become more personal."
"I can't tell you how many members of staff that work at the courthouse are just dismayed, they don't want to come back in there and they're right-it’s not safe! You have a registered sex offender who snuck into the courthouse, preying on employees in King County, waited inside the bathroom for a moment to strike and did strike-it’s tragic," says Reagan Dunn, King County Council Vice Chair.
Dunn has been working to try to get City Hall Park cleared, where a homeless encampment sits next door to the court.
"I walked through the area last night right at dusk and it’s flat out scary and folks are now coming into the courthouse and using the vending machines and the restroom and now preying upon our employees," says Dunn.
Several violent crimes have taken place in the park, where the encampment formed during COVID. Dunn believes the suspect in the attempted rape was staying there.
"I’ve heard that from multiple sources including the judges," says Dunn.
Now he’s calling on Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine to close the courthouse to the public until the camp is removed.
"Until we can secure the King County courthouse campus and clear the park and take the steps necessary, we should not allow individuals in the courthouse who don't have legitimate business there."
Q13 News reached out to Durkan and Constantine's offices for a response to Dunn's request to close the court to the public.
A spokesman for the county executive said, in part, that there is no confirmation that the attempted rape suspect has ties to the encampment, and that their office is in talks with various officials regarding the case.
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