On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, SVP-249-02.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Carchman and Ashrafi.
E.S.T. appeals from an order of August 12, 2009, continuing his civil 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.
Appellant, now forty-seven years old, committed three violent sexual offenses in a two-month period in 1985. In each incident, he broke into a home in the early morning hours where a young woman and her children were sleeping. In each incident, he threatened the woman with a weapon and sexually assaulted her. In at least two of the incidents, the children witnessed the threats if not the sexual assault.
On May 26, 1985, appellant entered a home in the early morning and, using a weapon, forced a twenty-two-year-old woman to perform oral sex on him. He then raped her vaginally. Two children, ages one and three, were present in the home.
According to a twenty-year-old victim, on July 25, 1985, appellant entered her home, pulled her hair as she slept, and, at knifepoint, demanded money. Appellant forced the victim into a room where two children, ages ten and three, had been sleeping. The victim pleaded with appellant not to hurt the children. He said he would not hurt them as long as she did not scream. He ordered her into a bathroom with the weapon at her throat, and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
On July 28, 1985, appellant entered another home in the early morning. The sixteen-year-old victim awakened to appellant on top of her, groping her sexually. He threatened to kill her and her children. The woman fought appellant and yelled. Appellant fled.
During the same time period, appellant physically assaulted and robbed two other women in public areas. On July 18, 1985, he pushed a woman down, punched her, and took her purse. On July 27, appellant and another man hit a woman in the stomach and took her purse and gold chains.
Appellant was arrested on July 30, 1985. He first denied the sexual offenses but admitted he could not sleep when high on methamphetamine and roamed the streets in the early morning hours. He also said he could not remember everything he had done but admitted entering homes and seeking money and sex from women. He claimed he did not use a knife, as the victims alleged, but that he usually broke off a car antenna and used it as a weapon. Despite being only twenty-two when arrested and incarcerated in 1985, appellant already had a significant record of criminal and juvenile offenses. His adult criminal record included burglary, larceny, criminal mischief, theft, resisting arrest, simple assault, and contempt.
Appellant was indicted on charges arising from the sexual assaults and robberies. On July 29, 1986, he entered into a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to sexual assault and attempted sexual assault arising from the May 26 and July 28, 1985 incidents and to second-degree robbery for the July 27, 1985 incident. He was sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment with fifteen years of parole ineligibility. Appellant served seventeen years in prison. Upon his release in 2002, he was immediately committed to the STU.
Under the SVPA, "[t]he Attorney General may initiate a court proceeding for involuntary commitment." N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.28c. "If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person needs continued involuntary commitment as a sexually violent predator, it shall issue an order authorizing the involuntary commitment of the person to a facility ...