June 20, 2007
IN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF C.R.M. SVP-263-02
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, SVP-263-02.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued April 18, 2007
Before Judges Winkelstein and Fuentes.
C.R.M. was initially committed under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SPVA), N.J.S.A. 20:4-27.24 to -27.38, on July 7, 2003. On appeal from that decision, we affirmed in an unpublished opinion. In re Civil Commitment of C.R.M., No. A-6775-02 (App. Div. March 23, 2006). His commitment status was again reviewed by the trial court. At this review hearing, Judge Perretti found that the State had proven, by clear and convincing evidence, that C.R.M remained a threat to the health and safety of others because of the strong likelihood that he would engage in sexually violent acts. See In re Civil Commitment of W.Z., 173 N.J. 109, 132 (2002).
Judge Perretti memorialized her findings in an order dated October 6, 2006. C.R.M. now appeals from that order of continued commitment. After reviewing the record, and in light of prevailing legal standards, we affirm.
The testimony of Dr. Raymond Terranova, a clinical psychologist and member of C.R.M.'s treatment team; and Dr. Luis Zeiguer, a psychiatrist who reviewed all of C.R.M.'s treatment records, support the court's conclusion. C.R.M. has a history of sexually assaulting prepubescent girls, including his own child. He has been diagnosed with pedophilia and paraphilia NOS. He has been found to be alcohol and cocaine dependent. He minimizes his conduct and has not fully participated in programs necessary to his treatment. He has been diagnosed as having antisocial and narcissistic traits. Dr. Zeiguer rated his risk of recidivism as "very, very high."
Indeed, C.R.M.'s own expert conceded that C.R.M.'s conduct was deviant. This expert also acknowledged that it would be the "worst possible" situation for him to live with a female with children as there would be a moderate to high risk for re- offense. Judge Perretti rejected, however, that portion of the expert's testimony in which he opined that C.R.M. was only a marginal threat to people other than those in his family.
The standard governing our review of the trial court's commitment decision is well-settled. We must give the trial court's decision the utmost deference; the court's decision can only be modified where the record reveals a clear abuse of discretion. In re Civil Commitment of V.A., 357 N.J. Super. 55, 63 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 177 N.J. 490 (2003).
We are satisfied that Judge Perretti's findings and conclusions are amply supported by the record. C.R.M.'s long history of repetitive sexual offenses, coupled with his current treatment status renders him at a high risk to re-offend. He is clearly incapable of controlling his compulsions, and is therefore subject to continued commitment under the SVPA. We thus affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Perretti in her oral opinion delivered from the bench on October 4, 2006.
© 1992-2007 VersusLaw Inc.