On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP 24-99.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Yannotti and LeWinn.
J.S. appeals from an order entered on June 20, 2007, continuing his civil commitment to the Special Treatment Unit ("STU") under the Sexually Violent Predator Act, N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38 ("SVPA"). Having reviewed the record and the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm substantially for the reasons set forth by Judge Freedman in his oral decision of June 18, 2007.
In 1994, J.S. pled guilty to charges of endangering the welfare of a child (second and fourth degrees), N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3), -4b(5)(b), and criminal sexual contact (fourth degree), N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3b, in Somerset County, as well as one count of aggravated sexual assault (first degree), N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a, and two other non-sexual offenses in Middlesex County. On November 4, 1999, after serving five years of concurrent seven-year sentences, he was civilly committed as a "sexually violent predator" pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24. His commitment has continued since that time, subject to annual review hearings pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.35. J.S. previously appealed from the March 14, 2003, order continuing his commitment to the STU. In an unpublished opinion, we affirmed that continuation order. In re Civil Commitment of J.S. SVP 24-99, No. A-4335-07T2 (App. Div. October 7, 2004).
The order from which J.S. now appeals was entered following a plenary review hearing before Judge Freedman on June 14, 2007. The relief he seeks is a transfer from the STU to the Ann Klein Forensic Center ("AKFC"), claiming that it provides a safer environment and less restrictive alternative setting for treatment. J.S. contends that he has been subject to physical assaults and theft or destruction of personal property at the STU, and the AKFC is a more therapeutic setting for him.
The State presented testimony from Dr. Evan L. Feibusch, a psychiatrist who has met with J.S. on several occasions since the Spring of 2006 and most recently evaluated him about one week prior to the review hearing. Dr. Feibusch stated that J.S. has been resistant to psychotropic medication which the doctor believes is necessary to treat his diagnosed conditions of paranoid personality disorder and personality disorder not otherwise specified (NOS). Dr. Feibusch also diagnosed J.S. with pedophilia and paraphilia.
In October 2006, Dr. Feibusch determined J.S. needed clinical hospitalization because he was refusing to eat or drink. He had J.S. committed to the AKFC where he immediately began to eat and drink, thereby abating the emergency that gave rise to his transfer. However, he refused medications at the AKFC. J.S. returned to the STU in January 2007.
Since his return to the STU, he has continued to refuse medication and has been placed on treatment probation status for his failure to participate as required in scheduled sessions. While Dr. Feibusch opined that the AKFC could be a more appropriate setting for J.S. because medications might be forced upon him there, he also opined that J.S. "idealizes" the AKFC and, if he remained there long enough, the same problems of resisting treatment would arise there as well.
Regarding the standards for transferring an STU patient to the AKFC, Dr. Feibusch was questioned as follows:
Q: Doctor, is the standard with regards to having a psychiatric issue different for a commitment to Ann ...