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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Suspect in child-rape scheme was never a psychologist

By Jennifer Sullivan and Bob Young
Seattle Times staff reporters

David Scratchley is not all he claimed to be, though it wouldn't be apparent if you followed his career.

The head of a Seattle drug-treatment center, Scratchley authored books, gave speeches to city employees and co-hosted a radio show. He has worked in the Seattle area at least 23 years and is regarded as a local expert on substance abuse and addictions.

David Scratchley
Scratchley, 52, flatly claimed in a recent video to be a psychologist.

He is not.

He is training to be certified by the state as a chemical-dependency counselor, according to the Department of Health.

That's just one of the mysteries and exaggerations that surround Scratchley, who was arrested early Friday and has been held without bail at the King County Jail on investigation of attempted rape of a child in the first degree and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

According to Seattle police, Scratchley talked with a woman about raping a 10-year-old boy at his Belltown apartment on Thursday.

The woman, who said she met Scratchley through drug treatment, contacted police Thursday afternoon after being fearful that Scratchley planned to go ahead with the sexual assault.

Police found the child inside Scratchley's apartment building and took him to Harborview Medical Center; investigators did not say whether the child had been harmed. They also found suspected cocaine in the apartment, according to a Seattle police report.

King County prosecutors said that Wednesday is their deadline to file charges against Scratchley in Superior Court.

The state Department of Health opened an investigation of Scratchley on Tuesday because of media attention surrounding his arrest, though department officials said they have never received a complaint about him.

One thing the health department will focus on is Scratchley's claim he is a psychologist.

Scratchley, clinical manager of the treatment program at the Matt Talbot New Hope Recovery Center, has never been a licensed psychologist in the state of Washington, according to Department of Health officials and records.

There is no gray area when it comes to making such a claim, said Betty Moe, a department program manager. State law prohibits anyone from calling themselves a psychologist unless they've obtained such a credential from the Department of Health.

Read the entire story here.