On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-498-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued September 12, 2012
Before Judges Simonelli, Koblitz and Accurso.
G.B. appeals from the February 19, 2009 order granting the Attorney General's petition for involuntary civil commitment pursuant to the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to 27.38, and the May 21, 2009 order denying reconsideration. G.B. served a seven-year sentence at the New Jersey State Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC) as a result of his guilty plea to two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault against his daughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(1). After reviewing the contentions advanced on appeal in light of the facts and relevant law, we affirm.
In June 1995, six months after her daughter was born, G.B.'s wife brought her to the hospital where an examination revealed a total of eleven fractures: a recently fractured left leg, older fractures of the right leg, and partially healed fractures to both arms. The infant also had bite marks on both of her feet and her left hand, as well as a thumbprint bruise on her thigh.
Although G.B. initially claimed that his daughter's injuries resulted from "rough play" and were not inflicted intentionally, he ultimately pleaded guilty to fourth-degree child abuse, N.J.S.A. 9:6-3, and was sentenced to probation for three years. He was ordered to attend parenting classes and counseling, to cooperate with the Division of Youth and Family Services,*fn1 to maintain employment, and to provide child support.
He was further prohibited from contacting his daughter. In 1997, the family reunified.
Shortly after reunification, and while still on probation for physically abusing her, G.B. began sexually abusing his then two-year-old daughter. The child later told police that her father touched her vagina with his hand, performed cunnilingus on her and made her perform fellatio on him until he ejaculated in her mouth. The sexual abuse persisted until 2001, when the then six-year-old disclosed the abuse to her mother. Rather than report the abuse to law enforcement, G.B.'s wife asked him to stop. A few months later, G.B. signed himself into a hospital claiming suicidal ideation and admitted to touching his daughter in a sexually inappropriate manner.
G.B. was arrested and charged with ten counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(1), five counts of second-degree sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(b), and three counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a).
Documentation from the ADTC reveals that, during therapy sessions at the facility, G.B. admitted that he "intentionally broke the limbs of his baby" and recounted how he remembered "her screaming [on one occasion] before [the limb] actually snapped." He also revealed that he would intentionally compress his daughter's chest until she turned blue, and that he bit her fingertips and heels.
While at the ADTC, G.B. also admitted that he began molesting his two younger half-sisters when he was between eleven and thirteen-years-old and they were two and four years of age. During his testimony at his civil commitment hearing, G.B. admitted to rubbing his penis on their vaginas and performing cunnilingus on both. His testimony also revealed incestuous acts with his full sister.
On April 16, 2007, G.B.'s case manager at ADTC, Cari-Ann Feiner-Escoto, Psy.D., issued a termination report, in which she opined that G.B. presented "a much higher risk for sexual reoffense than suggested by the actuarials." She noted that "his sexual offending and sadistic assaults overlap[ped] in time and were perpetrated on the same victim" and remarked on his "seemingly uncontrolled momentary smile" when he discussed his "sadistic arousal" when harming his young daughter. Dr. FeinerEscoto ultimately recommended that G.B. be screened for involuntary civil commitment under the SVPA, "[g]iven his sadistic arousal, obsessive preoccupation with his victim and family, and likely danger he poses to his daughter."
Lawrence Siegel, M.D. and Nancy Graffin, Ph.D. jointly conducted a screening on June 27, 2007, and related their findings in a Psychiatric Termination Report dated June 28, 2007. In their conclusion, the examiners acknowledged the risk that G.B. posed to his daughter and recognized that he would likely continue to have issues with children generally. Nevertheless, they determined that he was not highly likely to sexually reoffend and, thus, did not meet the threshold for involuntary commitment.
G.B. was released from custody on October 13, 2007. At the time of his release, he was not referred to the Attorney General for possible commitment under the SVPA.
When the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office contacted Dr. Feiner-Escoto in regard to Megan's Law tiering*fn2 for G.B., she disclosed G.B.'s troubling childhood behaviors, details of his physical and sexual abuse of his daughter, and his persistent attempts while at the ADTC to contact his family despite an institution rule prohibiting contact with his victim. Dr. Feiner-Escoto also expressed concern over G.B.'s "skill at presenting as believably remorseful and sincere while continuing to make attempts to contact [his daughter]" and his "disingenuous presentation." The State hired Vivian Schnaidman, M.D., to conduct a preliminary assessment of G.B. After reviewing the case records, Dr. Schnaidman determined that G.B. displayed psychopathic tendencies and should be referred for civil commitment.
On the State's motion, G.B. was taken into custody in July 2008 to submit to a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he met the criteria for commitment as a sexually violent predator.
During the commitment hearing, the State presented the testimony of Dr. Schnaidman, Dean DeCrisce, M.D., and psychologist Brian Friedman, Psy.D. The State also presented testimony from two of G.B.'s treating ADTC employees, Dr. ...