On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP 492-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Grall and LeWinn.
J.X.M. appeals from the September 18, 2008 judgment of the trial court committing him to the Special Treatment Unit, a facility designed for the custody, care and treatment of sexually violent predators, pursuant to the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act, N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38 (SVPA). We affirm.
In 1988, J.X.M. was arrested for first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(3); first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d); and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d). The charges stemmed from an incident on January 21, 1988, when defendant followed a woman walking on the street, then physically assaulted her, threatened her with a screwdriver, took her pocketbook and put his hand up under her dress, ripping her pantyhose and feeling her thighs. Members of the victim's family intervened and apprehended defendant.
Upon his arrest for this incident, police discovered that J.X.M. was also wanted for an incident on December 4, 1987. On that date, while under the influence of cocaine, beer and whiskey, J.X.M. abducted a young woman at knifepoint as she was walking on the street, took her to an isolated area and engaged in numerous sexual acts, including forcing the victim to perform fellatio, attempted anal intercourse and rape.
Defendant was indicted separately for these two incidents and ultimately entered plea agreements whereby he pled guilty to first-degree aggravated sexual assault, for the 1987 incident, and to first-degree armed robbery and second-degree aggravated assault for the 1988 incident. On April 29, 1988, he was sentenced to an aggregate term of forty years with a fifteen-year period of parole ineligibility.
On May 28, 2008, the Attorney General filed a petition for the civil commitment of J.X.M. under the SVPA, based upon his aggravated sexual assault conviction. The hearing on that petition was held on September 10, 2008.
The State presented the testimony of Dr. Brian Friedman, a psychologist, and Dr. Pogos Voskanian, a psychiatrist. J.X.M. refused to appear at the hearing; counsel appeared on his behalf, but presented no witnesses.
Dr. Friedman reviewed J.X.M.'s criminal history which, in addition to the 1987 and 1988 incidents, included an incident in 1978 in California, when J.X.M. was arrested on sexual assault charges stemming from what he described as an "orgy" involving two females, one of whom was a minor. Both victims reported that J.X.M. had used force and threatened the use of a knife in committing the sexual assaults. J.X.M. was charged with forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, assault with intent to rape, assault with a deadly weapon and theft. Pursuant to a plea agreement, he pled guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to a prison term of two years.
Dr. Friedman stated that J.X.M. refused to meet with him; therefore, he was not able to conduct psychological testing.
Based upon his review of documents regarding J.X.M.'s criminal and social history, however, Dr. Friedman determined that he had a long history of polysubstance abuse, an extensive criminal history since the age of fourteen, and an ...