On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-381-04.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 23, 2007
Before Judges Fuentes and Chambers.
L.M.J. was determined to be in need of civil commitment as a sexually violent predator under the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.48. The trial court found sufficient evidence warranting his continued commitment at his first annual review hearing. L.M.J. now appeals arguing that the State failed to establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that he was in need of commitment.*fn1 We disagree and affirm.
The State presented expert psychiatric testimony and reports from psychiatrists and psychologists who were familiar with L.M.J.'s sexual criminal history. These witnesses also reviewed L.M.J.'s criminal and medical histories, and personally met with him to form a clinical assessment of his risk for re-offending. The State's experts opined that L.M.J. suffered from a mental defect that rendered him a danger to society if not committed for sex offender and substance abuse treatment.
We gather the following facts from the evidence presented at the commitment hearings.
L.M.J. has a long history of sexual misconduct. On January 30, 1996, M.M., a fourteen-year-old girl, reported to the East Orange Police Department that L.M.J. had sexually abused her repeatedly for over six years between 1987 and 1994. According to M.M., L.M.J. told her that he would kill her if she told anyone about the sexual abuse. The State charged L.M.J. with sexual assault, terroristic threats, and endangering the welfare of a child. On December 13, 1996, L.M.J. pleaded guilty to sexual contact in the third degree, was sentenced to five years probation, and was required to undergo drug and alcohol counseling for his apparent addiction to crack cocaine.
On October 14, 1999, a woman named R.W., age twenty-four, reported that L.M.J. grabbed her while she was walking on a street in Newark; struck her; tied her hands and feet; and drove R.W. to a parking lot. While in the parking lot, L.M.J. held a knife to R.W. and forced her to submit to sexual intercourse. R.W. was able to escape and report this incident to the police.
L.M.J. was arrested on October 20, 1999, and charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, criminal restraint, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He pleaded guilty to second degree aggravated sexual assault and third degree criminal restraint and was sentenced to five years incarceration without the possibility of parole. The remaining charges were dismissed.
Although not resulting in a criminal conviction, L.M.J. was also charged with kidnapping based on a September 5, 1988, report by a woman named P.C., charging that L.M.J. had kidnapped her and had forced her to engage in oral and vaginal sex. The grand jury returned a no bill and the matter was dismissed on June 8, 1989.
On October 3, 1994, L.M.J. was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, terroristic threats, robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, and resisting arrest. These charges were filed against him after a woman alleged that he had sexually assaulted her at knifepoint. When police officers attempted to arrest L.M.J., he kicked, punched, and scratched the arresting officer. L.M.J. ...