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In re Civil Commitment of W.J.S.

March 10, 2008

IN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF W.J.S., SVP 409-05


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP 409-05.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 8, 2008

Before Judges Winkelstein and LeWinn.

W.J.S. appeals from the trial court's order of March 29, 2006, civilly committing him pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act, N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.37 (SVPA). He raises the following issues for our consideration:

POINT ONE: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS ASSESSMENT THAT W.J.S. SUFFERED FROM A MENTAL ABNORMALITY PREDISPOSING HIM FROM [SIC] COMMITTING ACTS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE POINT TWO: THE STATE DID NOT PROVE BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE ALL OF THE ELEMENTS OF THE SVPA AS REQUIRED FOR COMMITMENT UNDER THE ACT.

Having thoroughly reviewed the record in this matter, we find no error. We are in substantial agreement with the findings and conclusions stated by Judge Serena Perretti in her oral decision of March 24, 2006. We affirm on the basis of that decision.

W.J.S. was convicted of sexual offenses in 1968, 1976, and 1993, involving pre- and post-pubescent children, some of whom were his own children. Following his 1993 conviction, he was found to be a compulsive and repetitive offender and was confined at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel (ADTC), pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:47-1 to -3.

The State moved for W.J.S.'s civil commitment under the SVPA in April 2005. At the commitment hearing, the court heard testimony on behalf of the State from Dr. Raymond Terranova, a licensed clinical psychologist, and Dr. Michael McAllister, D.O.

W.J.S. had refused to be interviewed by Dr. Terranova. Nonetheless, the doctor submitted a report, and testified, based upon his review of W.J.S.'s extensive record of sexual offenses that extended back to the 1960's; as well as W.J.S.'s treatment records that included more than fifteen hospitalizations at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital. He noted that W.J.S. had admitted sexually molesting all of his children. Dr. Terranova diagnosed W.J.S. with pedophilia, psychotic disorder not otherwise specified (N.O.S.), cannabis dependence, alcohol abuse, personality disorder N.O.S. with anti-social features, and borderline intellectual functioning.

Dr. Terranova's expert opinion was that W.J.S. "presents as a high risk to sexually recidivate." He acknowledged that W.J.S. had been in treatment for his marijuana abuse and had been "marijuana free" for the past thirteen years. When asked if he thought the lack of marijuana abuse would reduce the degree of W.J.S.'s risk of re-offending sexually, the doctor responded: "It's difficult to say. Perhaps." Dr. Terranova stated that, even if W.J.S.'s psychotic disorder were "under control," that would not reduce his risk of re-offending "below the threshold of high likelihood."

Dr. McAllister interviewed W.J.S. and reviewed his criminal and psychiatric history. He arrived at his diagnoses based upon his "current interview and a thorough review of the sources." Dr. McAllister found that W.J.S. had "an incorrigible childhood, a mental illness that began in childhood, [and] a significant history of substance abuse[.]"

Dr. McAllister's review of W.J.S.'s records disclosed that W.J.S. had a longstanding, repetitive pattern of sexual assaults upon pre- and post-pubescent children, including numerous such assaults upon his own children; W.J.S. admitted having sexual activity with his own children. His offenses occurred between 1968 and 1993, which "indicate[d] a significant durability to his sexual deviance." The doctor opined that individuals "who molest not only inside their family, but who ...


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