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In re Civil Commitment of C.R.M.

December 17, 2008


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-263-02.

Per curiam.



Argued: September 17, 2008

Before Judges Fisher and C.L. Miniman.

C.R.M. appeals from an order of continued commitment to the Special Treatment Unit as a sexually violent predator (SVP) under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38. C.R.M. was first committed on July 7, 2003, and his commitment was continued by judgments entered on June 14, 2004, and October 6, 2006. His commitment was most recently continued by judgment of February 7, 2008, from which he now appeals. We affirm.

This is the third time that C.R.M. has appealed judgments for continued commitment. First, C.R.M. appealed the judgment of July 7, 2003, and, in affirming this continued commitment, we summarized the evidence existing in the record as of that date, In re Civil Commitment of C.R.M., No. A-6775-02 (App. Div. March 23, 2006) (C.R.M. I), and incorporate that summary here, id., slip op. at 1-14. Second, C.R.M. appealed the judgment of October 6, 2006, which we affirmed in an unpublished opinion. In re Civil Commitment of C.R.M., No. A-1529-06 (App. Div. June 20, 2007) (C.R.M. II). In doing so, we noted:

[C.R.M.] 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 reoffense. 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.

[Id., slip op. at 2-3.]

In continuing his commitment on October 6, 2006, Judge Serena Perretti summarized the treatment records and expert opinions respecting C.R.M. The State's evidence was uncontradicted and the only witness to testify at this third annual review was Dr. Evan Feibusch, whose testimony the judge found credible and reliable. She took particular note of observations made by the Treatment Progress Review Committee (TPRC). Its notes revealed that C.R.M. would not participate in a sexual history questionnaire and the related polygraph or enroll in the Family of Origin treatment module. The TPRC expressed concern about C.R.M.'s "help-rejecting behavior" because he refused to follow the recommendations it made at the prior TPRC review. The TPRC also expressed concern about the discrepancies between C.R.M.'s current denial of a substance-abuse history and the history of substance abuse that was documented in the records. It recommended enrollment in substance-abuse modules.

The judge also noted that C.R.M. refused to be interviewed by Dr. Feibusch, who testified that he would have evaluated C.R.M.'s current mental state, learned of C.R.M.'s relapse-prevention techniques and his story of his sex offending history. Dr. Feibusch testified he would also have explored the many inconsistent statements made by C.R.M. over the years and the discrepancies between C.R.M.'s version of his offending behaviors and the version in the official records. He testified that C.R.M.'s current denial of any historical substance abuse was "striking" in light of his self-report during the presentence investigation and in 1994 that he used crack cocaine daily from 1987 to 1991. Dr. Feibusch also commented that C.R.M.'s history has "shrunk and shrunk."

The judge observed that the treatment team had accepted C.R.M.'s dissembling with respect to his substance abuse and, as a consequence, he was vitiating efforts to provide therapy to him. The judge specifically determined that she could "not place trust or confidence in the opinions of the therapists as to the respondent's progress in treatment in light of the therapist's disregard of the respondent's clear dissembling in his efforts to conceal it."

The judge agreed with Dr. Feibusch's testimony that C.R.M. lacked credibility. She found that C.R.M.'s willingness to conceal his substance abuse also called his protestations about his sexually offending behavior into question. ...

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