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In re Civil Commitment of V.A.M. SVP-201-01

April 24, 2009


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-201-01.

Per curiam.



Argued April 1, 2009

Before Judges Axelrad and Parrillo.

V.A.M. appeals from an October 24, 2008 judgment continuing his involuntary commitment to the Special Treatment Unit (STU) pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38. We affirm.

V.A.M. was born on June 16, 1966, and has been involuntarily committed under the SVPA since January 14, 2002.

V.A.M. committed the predicate offense while attending outpatient sex offender counseling in accordance with the conditions of his parole for prior sexually violent crimes. Regarding those earlier offenses, on July 20, 1988, V.A.M. sexually assaulted Z.C., a six year old girl, whom he was baby-sitting, by ordering her to pull down her pants and panties and ejaculating between her legs. V.A.M. also admitted having ejaculated on Z.C.'s panties another time. As a result, he was charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(1); two counts of second-degree sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c), and one count of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a). On November 29, 1988, V.A.M. pled guilty to one count of second-degree sexual assault and on February 16, 1989, was sentenced to a ten-year term of incarceration. He was released on parole on February 14, 1991.

The predicate offense for which V.A.M. is currently committed occurred on April 9, 1992, when V.A.M. sexually assaulted D.G., a twelve-year old girl, by anally penetrating her. As a result, V.A.M. pled guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault and was sentenced to a fifteen-year term, with a five-year mandatory minimum. Although he had been found to be a repetitive and compulsive sex offender and eligible for sentencing to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC or Avenel), he was sentenced to State prison in accordance with the terms of the plea agreement.

Following completion of his sentence, the State moved for V.A.M.'s commitment under the SVPA. A temporary order of commitment was entered on September 25, 2001, followed by an order of commitment on January 14, 2002. Further review hearings were conducted on September 30, 2003; May 12, 2005; December 1, 2005; and June 19, 2006, at which times V.A.M.'s commitment was continued. V.A.M. appealed from the September 30, 2003 and June 19, 2006 orders, and we affirmed. IMO Civil Commitment of V.A.M., A-1650-03T2 (App. Div. October 13, 2004); IMO Civil Commitment of V.A.M., A-5766-05T2 (App. Div. February 15, 2007).

V.A.M.'s most recent review hearing took place on October 24, 2008, and resulted in an order of commitment on October 24, 2008, from which this appeal is taken.

V.A.M. was not present at this review hearing. The only witness to testify was the State's expert, Dr. Pogos Voskanian. On September 30, 2008, Dr. Voskanian attempted to interview V.A.M. in conjunction with his upcoming review hearing, but V.A.M. refused to be interviewed. Dr. Voskanian had unsuccessfully tried to interview V.A.M. twice before. Consequently, Dr. Voskanian relied on documents and reports in V.A.M.'s file, which dated back to 2001. Dr. Voskanian diagnosed V.A.M. with the following: Axis I (pedophilia, attracted to females, non-exclusive type; mood disorder NOS (as per history); alcohol dependence in controlled environment); Axis II (personality disorder NOS (as per history)); Axis III (history of undescended testicle, history of blackouts, history of seizures, overweight, high cholesterol, S/P surgery for inguinal hernia, Diabetes Mellitus type II, hypertension); Axis IV (moderate); Axis V (20).

Dr. Voskanian diagnosed V.A.M. with pedophilia because V.A.M. "disclosed and related very strong pedophilic urges over [the] course of time" and confessed having a wet dream about one of his victims prior to her assault. According to Dr. Voskanian, V.A.M. has not made progress in treatment, and there is no expressed insight. V.A.M. also "has a history of heavy alcohol use[,]" but is not participating in treatment for alcohol dependence, such as attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings or self-help groups.

Dr. Voskanian diagnosed V.A.M. with Axis II personality disorder not otherwise specified by history, because V.A.M. has a pattern of indifference and resisting treatment. The expert explained that, "I do believe that there is a personality dysfunction or characterological dysfunction that he's still in Phase 2, unmotivated." Dr. Voskanian's diagnosis was consistent with previous diagnoses by others, with the exception that Dr. Voskanian ...

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