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In re Civil Commitment of W.J.S.

February 8, 2010

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued January 12, 2010

Before Judges Carchman and Ashrafi.

Appellant W.J.S., a fifty-four-year old male, appeals from a June 18, 2009 order, continuing his involuntary civil commitment to the Special Treatment Unit (STU) as a sexually violent predator under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38. We affirm.

The issue before us is limited. 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 trial judge must address "his or her present serious difficulty with control over dangerous sexual behavior[,]" 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 re Civil Commitment of J.H.M., 367 N.J. Super. 599, 607-08 (App. Div. 2003), certif. denied, 179 N.J. 312 (2004). The same standard applies on a review of the initial commitment. W.Z., supra, 173 N.J. at 133; In re Commitment of J.R., 390 N.J. Super. 523, 529-30 (App. Div. 2007).

These are the facts before the trial judge on the review hearing. On September 27, 1993, W.J.S. was convicted of three counts of aggravated sexual assault in the first degree, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a(1), and two counts of sexual assault in the second degree, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2b. Appellant's conviction arose out of a series of sexual assaults. His son, W.S., reported to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office that he had been sexually abused by his father, and appellant admitted that he sexually assaulted W.S. since he was an infant, performing fellatio on W.S. as well as anal penetration as frequently as three times per week.

Appellant further acknowledged sexually assaulting his nine-year old daughter, S.D., and his seven-year-old daughter, S.E., performing oral sex on his daughters approximately three times and twice per week, respectively. He also performed oral sex on his twenty-year old stepson, R.E.W., from when R.E.W. was six until he was eighteen years old.

Appellant further admitted to sexually assaulting: S.D.M.S., age nine, since she was four years old, by performing cunnilingus on her; S.M.V.S., during the summer of 1992 when she was five years old, by performing cunnilingus upon her;

A.C.F.C., age five, when he was approximately one-and-a-half years old, by performing fellatio upon him; S.A.D.S., age three, when she was approximately six months of age, by performing cunnilingus upon her; and J.M.B.S., on one occasion during the winter of 1992 when the child was one year old, by performing fellatio upon the child.

Appellant had also been convicted of sexual offenses in 1976 and 1968; in both instances, appellant pulled down the pants of a four-year old girl and began touching her vagina. For the 1976 offense, appellant was sentenced to 201 days in the Passaic County Jail until placed in the Greystone Psychiatric hospital. For the 1968 offense, appellant was placed on temporary probation, given a 30 day ...


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