On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, SVP-35-00.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued October 25, 2011 -
Before Judges Fisher and Baxter.
R.T. appeals from a judgment entered on September 20, 2010 that continued 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 reject R.T.'s claim that the State's proofs fell short of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that he is highly likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if not involuntarily confined. We affirm.
On June 7, 1995, when R.T. was nineteen years old, he lured B.H. and his older brother R.H. into a wooded area behind the apartment complex where the boys lived with their mother. After the older boy left the area, B.H. said he needed to use the bathroom. R.T. told the child to pull down his pants. When B.H. did so, R.T. fondled the boy's penis.
R.T. subsequently pled guilty to second-degree sexual assault in connection with that incident. Prior to sentencing, Jeffrey Allen, Ph. D., conducted a psychological evaluation of R.T. to determine whether he should be sentenced to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC) at Avenel as a compulsive and repetitive sex offender. During that evaluation, R.T. admitted to Dr. Allen that he had also fondled B.H. on a prior occasion. He also admitted to touching the penis of R.H. on two separate occasions, and to molesting at least two other boys, who were four or five years old, while the children were in the woods behind R.T.'s apartment complex. R.T. admitted to being sexually aroused by "little boys."
In keeping with Dr. Allen's recommendation, the sentencing judge ordered R.T. to serve his five-year prison sentence at the ADTC. Upon his discharge from the ADTC, R.T. was transferred to the Ann Klein Forensic Psychiatric Hospital on January 11, 1999, where he agreed to undergo hormone treatments to suppress his deviant sexual fantasies.
On January 10, 2000, the State filed a petition seeking R.T.'s commitment pursuant to the SVPA. Following a hearing on December 4, 2000, the judge found that R.T. was a sexually violent predator, and approved R.T.'s commitment to the STU for control, care and treatment. At the nine annual review hearings conducted between 2001 and 2009, the judge ordered R.T.'s continued commitment as a sexually violent predator.*fn1 The present appeal was taken from the order dated September 20, 2010, which was entered following the review hearing held on that date by Judge John A. McLaughlin.
At the hearing, the State presented testimony from Dean De Crisce, M.D., a forensic psychiatrist. In his September 16, 2010 report, which was received in evidence, Dr. De Crisce diagnosed R.T. as suffering from pedophilia (sexually attracted to males), alcohol abuse with possible alcohol dependence, and dysthymic disorder (depression). He also diagnosed R.T. as suffering from borderline intellectual functioning and personality disorder "not otherwise specified, with antisocial, schizoid and avoidant traits."
In his report, Dr. De Crisce observed that R.T. had also been convicted of setting a fire in a dumpster behind a high school. When asked whether he became sexually aroused when setting the fire, R.T. answered in the affirmative. De Crisce opined that this additional form of deviant sexual arousal created an increased risk for R.T. to reoffend as a sexually violent predator. Dr. De Crisce also identified other disorders from which R.T. suffers that are "significantly correlated with a higher risk of sexual recidivism." The most notable include: schizoid or avoidant behavioral traits, and a personality disorder characterized by "significant social detachment and [a] poor relationship history." Together, these have caused, and predispose, R.T. to "turn to children for companionship and ...