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In re Civil Commitment of R.G.

December 17, 2008

IN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF R.G. SVP-462-07


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, SVP-462-07.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued December 8, 2008

Before Reisner and Sapp-Peterson.

R.G. appeals from a June 30, 2008 order committing him to the Special Treatment Unit (STU), with a future review date of May 20, 2009, pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38. We affirm, substantially for the reasons stated by Judge Freedman in his forty-page oral opinion placed on the record on June 23, 2008.

I.

An involuntary civil commitment can follow service of a sentence, or other criminal disposition, when the offender "suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility for control, care and treatment." N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.26.

[T]he State must prove that threat [to the health and safety of others because of the likelihood of his or her engaging in sexually violent acts] by demonstrating that the individual has serious difficulty in controlling sexually harmful behavior such that it is highly likely that he or she will not control his or her sexually violent behavior and will reoffend. [In re Commitment of W.Z., 173 N.J. 109, 132 (2002).]

The court must address "his or her present serious difficulty with control," and the State must establish that it is highly likely that the committee will reoffend by clear and convincing evidence. Id. at 132-34. See also In the Matter of the Commitment of J.H.M., 367 N.J. Super. 599, 610-11 (App. Div. 2003), certif. denied, 179 N.J. 312 (2004). After thoroughly reviewing the record, we are satisfied that the State has met its burden in this case.

II.

R.G. has a lengthy history of violent sexual assaults on women, including nine convictions plus at least six additional rapes, which he admitted to therapists, for which he was not apprehended. Some of his sexual assaults were characterized by beating or biting the victims. He also admitted to sexually brutalizing his wife during their five-year marriage, and he admitted trying to rape his sister when he was eighteen. He also has a history of alcoholism. In 1977, while on parole for a sexual assault, he raped a woman and threatened to kill her. He was convicted of rape and assault with intent to rape in 1978 and was sentenced to thirty years in prison.

While in prison, in 2004, R.G. attempted extortion and blackmail by claiming that he knew the location of several barrels of cyanide and forty cases of dynamite and offered to reveal the location in exchange for $767,000 and release from prison. In 2006, he was disciplined for threatening bodily harm.

At the end of his sentence in 2007, the State moved to have R.G. civilly committed pursuant to the SVPA. He was temporarily committed in November 2007. After a plenary review hearing, Judge Freedman entered the June ...


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