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In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of E.L.C.

April 11, 2012


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-301-03.

Per curiam.



Argued March 19, 2012

Before Judges Parrillo and Alvarez.

E.L.C. appeals from an October 11, 2011 judgment continuing his involuntary commitment to the Special Treatment Unit (STU), pursuant to the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30: 4-27.24 to -27.38. We affirm.

Forty-seven year old E.L.C. was initially committed on February 14, 2003, at the expiration of his ten-year term for the predicate offense of aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a(1), and endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4. Those offenses involved his sexual penetration of an eight-year old female in 1996, which followed his earlier convictions for sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, involving his sexual penetration of a nine-year old female in 1987.

On or before his initial commitment, E.L.C. was diagnosed with pedophilia, females, non-exclusive type; cocaine, heroin, and alcohol dependence in institution remission; and mild mental retardation. Since his initial commitment, E.L.C. has had multiple review hearings, in which the court found he satisfied the requirements for continued commitment. E.L.C. appealed from two of those orders - June 5, 2003 and September 14, 2005, and we affirmed on both occasions. In re Civil Commitment of E.L.C., No. A-6136-02 (App. Div. Nov. 30, 2004) and In re Civil Commitment of E.L.C., No. A-0688-05 (App. Div. Feb. 15, 2006).

The present appeal arises from E.L.C.'s most recent review hearing on October 4, 2011. At the hearing, the State presented two witnesses, Dr. Alberto Goldwaser, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Doreen Stanzione, a psychologist and member of the Treatment Progress Review Committee (TPRC).

Goldwaser interviewed E.L.C. and diagnosed him with pedophilia based upon prepubescent victims, polysubstance dependence, and Personality Disorder NOS, with narcissistic and antisocial features. According to Goldwaser, E.L.C.'s personality disorder coupled with his pedophilia "will encourage him to do whatever he feels like doing, or whatever he has the urge of doing, and substance dependence will, one, embolden him to do whatever he wants or/and at the same [time] decrease [his] self-control and impair his judgment."

E.L.C. expressed depression and suicidal thoughts. He also has a long history of drug abuse, dating back to the age of twelve. E.L.C. reported that he sees his child victims as women not children, and described his sexual attraction to prepubescent girls, "how they look, their skin, . . . [and] their smell . . . ." During the evaluation, he also told Goldwaser that he did not care about the girls, that he did not think what he was doing was wrong or hurtful, and that it was for his self-gratification.

E.L.C. also has not made sufficient progress in treatment. According to Goldwaser, E.L.C. "did not get positive results and did not develop insight, did not improve judgment or did not apply Relapse Prevention skills" at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC). Goldwaser specifically noted that "psychiatric treatment . . . was discontinued because it was determined that [E.L.C.] was using health services in an attempt to manipulate the system."

As his treatment notes reflect, E.L.C. recognizes that "he needs to understand his sexual offensive behavior more and needs to develop skills to prevent this from happening again." Although some progress is being made in attending meetings and being involved in a Therapeutic Community (TC), E.L.C. still remains in Phase Three of treatment, as arousal reconditioning, anger management, and family of origin, were all incomplete due to poor attendance. According to Goldwaser, these modules needed to be completed to reduce his risk of re-offending, as does his Sexual History Questionnaire and polygraph exam. Also, E.L.C. has only a "rudimentary knowledge of a deviant cycle" and Relapse Prevention concepts. Significantly, during the evaluation, when Goldwaser began speaking about his lack of progress in treatment, E.L.C. became very upset and terminated the interview. Goldwaser thus concluded that E.L.C.'s treatment is progressing very slowly as he tends to repeatedly focus on his mistreatment as a child rather than on his actions as an adult, seeing himself as the victim instead of trying to understand the painful feelings of his victims. Based on his interview and review of E.L.C.'s records, Goldwaser opined that E.L.C. was highly likely to re-offend.

Dr. Doreen Stanzione, a clinical psychologist, diagnosed E.L.C. with pedophilia, polysubstance dependence, depressive disorder NOS, and a provisional mild mental retardation. She agreed with Goldwaser that E.L.C. failed to complete several modules that were necessary for his release. According to Stanzione, E.L.C.'s transition to TC has been challenging as he has not been making use of its resources or attending the appropriate self-help groups. His current treatment providers noted ...

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