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In re Civil Commitment of L.X.S.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 6, 2013



Argued November 12, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-261-02.

Peter W. Latimer, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney).

Lucy Elizabeth Fritz, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent (John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney).

Before Judges Parrillo and Kennedy.


L.X.S. appeals from a March 28, 2013 order of the Law Division continuing his involuntary commitment to the New Jersey Special Treatment Unit (STU), pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38. We affirm.

L.X.S. was born in 1963 and is currently fifty years old. He was first arrested and charged, on April 24, 1980, with acts of delinquency that, if committed by an adult, would constitute criminal sexual contact. Those charges were dismissed. However, he was subsequently adjudicated delinquent for acts of harassment, theft and burglary and was placed on probation until his nineteenth birthday; he was to attend a residential facility of the Division of Mental Retardation.

On September 23, 1983, L.X.S. was arrested and charged with burglary, aggravated sexual assault, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. On April 27, 1984, he pled guilty to burglary and aggravated sexual assault. The incident involved L.X.S. going into the home of a fourteen year-old girl and forcing her to have sexual intercourse with him at knifepoint. L.X.S. was sentenced to a term of ten years' imprisonment. He was paroled on January 6, 1988.

Less than one month later, L.X.S. committed the predicate offense. On January 29, 1988, L.X.S. was with a couple at the East Landis Motel, where they met the victim. The victim went with L.X.S. and the couple to L.X.S.'s room to watch television. After a short time, the couple left but the victim remained in the room with L.X.S. L.X.S. then held a pair of scissors to her throat and forced her to perform oral sex on him and allow him to perform oral sex on her. As a result of this incident, L.X.S. pled guilty on April 18, 1988, to aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a(4), a sexually violent offense, N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.26, and was sentenced to a twenty-year term at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC) in Avenel pursuant to the New Jersey Sex Offender Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:47-1 to -10. However, in 2000, he was transferred to East Jersey State Prison for failure to participate in the ADTC treatment program and for continued inappropriate sexual acting out at the ADTC.

Prior to the expiration of his sentence, on July 10, 2002, the State petitioned for the civil commitment of L.X.S. pursuant to the SVPA. Following his temporary commitment to the STU, a final hearing was held on August 6, 2002, at which time Dr. Stanley Kern, a psychiatrist, testified that L.X.S. met the criteria for civil commitment, diagnosing him with paraphilia NOS, an impulse control disorder NOS, sexual sadism, an antisocial personality disorder and mild mental retardation. According to Dr. Kern, L.X.S. was predisposed to commit future acts of sexual violence if not committed for treatment, finding it "most likely" that L.X.S. would reoffend. The court committed L.X.S. to the STU. L.X.S. appealed and we affirmed. In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of L.X.S., A-2152-02 (App. Di February 23, 2005). Subsequent reviews were held, and L.X.S.'s commitment was continued after each of those reviews.

The present review was conducted on March 28, 2013, at which time the State presented the expert testimony of Dr. Roger Harris, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Nicole Paolillo, a psychologist and member of the STU's Treatment Progress Review Committee (TPRC), who performed L.X.S.'s most recent annual evaluation, and authored the TPRC's March 18, 2013 report. L.X.S. testified on his own behalf but offered no other proof.

Dr. Harris had attempted three times to do an evaluation of L.X.S. on June 6, 2012, December 20, 2012, and March 25, 2013, but L.X.S. had refused to participate. Nonetheless, Dr. Harris's current evaluation of L.X.S. was based on a past assessment he had conducted on January 4, 2011, in which L.X.S. had participated; a review of multiple reports, which included information about L.X.S.'s diagnosis and risk to reoffend; and presentence reports and other evaluations, including progress notes from L.X.S.'s treatment at STU. Based thereon, Dr. Harris diagnosed L.X.S. with ...

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