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In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of L.W. Svp-29-99.

July 6, 2011


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-29-99.

Per curiam.



Argued June 14, 2011

Before Judges Carchman and Parrillo.

Appellant, L.W., appeals from the Law Division's May 13, 2010 judgment continuing his involuntary commitment to the Special Treatment Unit (STU) under the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38. He argues that the State presented insufficient evidence to support his continued commitment. We have thoroughly reviewed the record, and we find appellant's argument lacking in merit. We are satisfied the judge's findings are amply supported by the record. Accordingly, we affirm.

L.W. is a sixty-eight year old male who was originally committed to the STU on December 13, 1999 at the expiration of his prison sentence for his 1982 predicate offense convictions for kidnapping, possession of a weapon by a felon, aggravated assault, and aggravated sexual assault. On August 30, 1982, L.W. kidnapped the victim, D.E., from her vehicle at a car wash and forced her into his trunk. D.E. resisted and he bit off the tip of her finger during the struggle. L.W. drove to a relative's house and, using a gun, forced D.E. inside. He removed her clothing and put her on a bed, binding her hands and feet. He performed cunnilingus on D.E. before untying her feet and raping her vaginally and anally. While incarcerated for these crimes, L.W. was institutionally charged with masturbating in front of a female officer in April 1999.

L.W. has a juvenile record and a long adult history of sexually violent and other criminal offenses. Specifically, L.W. committed lewdness in 1965; carrying a prohibited weapon in 1972; breaking and entering and grand larceny in 1972; flight to avoid prosecution in 1974; armed robbery in 1974; and breaking and entering with intent to rape, assault with intent to rape, and lewdness in 1974.

At the time of his initial commitment in December 1999, L.W. was diagnosed with paraphilia NOS, polysubstance dependence in forced remission, impulse control disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Since his initial commitment, L.W. has been subject to multiple review hearings, in which the court found he satisfied the requirements for continued commitment.

The present appeal arises out of L.W.'s most recent review hearings conducted on April 7 and 22, 2010, which resulted in the continuation of his involuntary civil commitment. At the hearings, the State presented the testimony of three experts, including Dr. Pogos Voskanian, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Rosemarie Vala-Stewart, a psychologist and member of the Treatment Progress Review Committee (TPRC). Dr. Voskanian reviewed L.W.'s record and found a history of over twenty years of sexually aggressive behaviors. He concluded that L.W.'s risk of reoffending is high because of his history of sexual aggression and resistance to treatment.

Dr. Voskanian diagnosed L.W. with paraphilia NOS, alcohol abuse, polysubstance dependence, and antisocial personality disorder. Dr. Voskanian based his diagnosis of paraphilia on L.W.'s physically and sexually violent past as well as his anger. Additionally, Dr. Voskanian found that antisocial personality disorder was exhibited by L.W.'s lack of remorse or empathy towards his victims.

According to Dr. Voskanian, sexual pathology was indicated because, despite punishment, L.W. could not refrain from sexually offending behavior, resorting to sex as a weapon. Moreover, in his interview with Dr. Voskanian, L.W. justified his behavior and, in particular, minimized the 1982 predicate offense, presenting his version in a less violent and sadistic manner. Based on his interview with L.W. and his review of documentation, Dr. Voskanian concluded that:

[L.W.] comes across as an individual who sexualizes his anger. If he's angry, and he gets a lot - frequently angry at females, he takes his anger out by sexually assaulting them. [H]e had preplanned to assault the victim in the predicate offense. . . . [I]f he's angry, [L.W] is likely to take his anger out in a sexual way and, as he explained to me in his own way of stating it, and use sex as a weapon. So that's what ultimately brings him satisfaction of his revenge and of his anger . . . . This trend from his adolescent years persisted from stranger women, to prostitutes, to getting involvement in this pimping business, and culminating with the rape in his predicate offense. And he's described as a quite controlling individual, as per his treatment providers until now.

And, despite L.W.'s increasing involvement and progress in treatment programs over the last two years, Dr. Voskanian determined that L.W. is still in need of further treatment, especially in ...

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