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In re Civil Commitment of H.G.T.

January 14, 2008

IN THE MATTER OF CIVIL COMMITMENT OF H.G.T. SVP 18-99.


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP 18-99.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued December 4, 2007

Before Judges Yannotti and Lewinn.

H.G.T. appeals from an order entered by Judge Serena Perretti on May 17, 2007, which continued his civil commitment pursuant to the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act, N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38 (SVPA). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

In 1995, H.G.T. pled guilty to one count of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, which is a predicate offense under the SVPA. N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.26(a). The offense involved repeated acts of sexual assault upon the eleven-year old daughter of H.G.T.'s girlfriend. H.G.T. was sentenced to a five-year term of incarceration to be served at the Adult Diagnostic Treatment Center (ADTC). H.G.T. was released from the ADTC in March of 1999, after having served four and one-half years (or fifty-four months) of his sentence. Thereafter, he was civilly committed.

On October 27, 1999, the Attorney General filed a complaint seeking H.G.T.'s civil commitment pursuant to the SVPA. The court entered a temporary order of commitment on October 28, 1999. Following a hearing, the court entered an order on June 29, 2000, based on its finding that H.G.T. was a sexually violent predator in need of commitment pursuant to the SVPA.

Subsequently, orders continuing H.G.T.'s commitment were entered on January 12, 2001; February 8, 2002; January 13, 2003; July 3, 2003; and August 19, 2003. H.G.T. appealed the orders entered on July 3, 2003 and August 19, 2003. We affirmed. In re Civil Commitment of H.G.T. No. A-39-03T2 (App. Div. December 13, 2004). This appeal arises from the review hearing that was held on May 14, 2007.

At the hearing, the State presented testimony by Dr. Brian Friedman, who prepared the report of the Treatment Progress Review Committee (TPRC) dated April 30, 2007. In his report, Dr. Friedman noted that, in addition to his 1995 conviction for aggravated sexual assault, H.G.T. pled guilty in 1987 to endangering the welfare of a child. That offense involved the sexual abuse of a ten-year old female foster child who resided with H.G.T.'s girlfriend. H.G.T. was sentenced to fifty-six days in jail and four years of probation. Dr. Friedman additionally noted that at one time, H.G.T. reported that he had as many as fifty victims, but H.G.T. later claimed that this was not accurate.

In his report, Dr. Friedman made the following diagnoses: pedophilia, sexually attracted to females, non-exclusive; alcohol dependence, with physiological dependence, in a controlled environment; polysubstance dependence, in a controlled environment; major depressive disorder; disorder of written expression; and borderline personality disorder.

The doctor noted that H.G.T. had been in sex offender treatment for over nine years. However, he had not benefited significantly in the early years of treatment. According to Dr. Friedman, the primary stumbling block appeared to be "emotional and behavioral symptoms commensurate with his [b]orderline [p]ersonality organization." However, the doctor noted that in the previous year, H.G.T. had demonstrated "increased motivation."

Dr. Friedman testified that H.G.T. has made some significant improvements over the preceding year. He has been more consistent in his group therapy sessions. He also has engaged in individual therapy, which has helped his behavioral control. Dr. Friedman said that the TPRC believed that Phase 3 of treatment was appropriate at this time.

Dr. Friedman stated that H.G.T. suffers from pedophilia, a condition that does not "go away." The doctor said that he diagnosed borderline personality disorder because H.G.T. has a long history of affective instability, meaning significant mood swings, difficulty handling uncomfortable emotions, [and] reacting impulsively. He's got a history of self-injurious behavior, multiple suicide attempts. He . . . seems to have a relatively poor sense of self. His relationships tend to be unstable, ...


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