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In re Application of State

Supreme Court, Orange County

October 24, 2019

In the Matter of the Application of the State of New York, Petitioner,
v.
Geoffrey P., Respondent.

          OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL Breda Huvane, Esq. Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Petitioner

          MENTAL HYGIENE LEGAL SERVICE Peter J. Mitchell, Esq. Eugene Brennan Heslin, Esq. Attorneys for Respondent

          Craig Stephen Brown, J.

         On or about May 17, 2000, Geoffrey P. was convicted by a plea of guilty to Sex Abuse in the First Degree under Penal Law §130.65. Said conviction qualified him as a sex offender pursuant to Mental Hygiene Law §10.03. On or about February 1, 2011, following a jury trial wherein respondent was found to be suffering from a mental abnormality, the Honorable Nicholas De Rosa found respondent to be suffering from a mental abnormality and determined that respondent was a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement.

         After a period of confinement in a secure treatment facility, respondent's status was downgraded, as he was adjudicated a sex offender who could be maintained in civil management under Mental Hygiene Law Article 10. As a result of said adjudication, respondent was released from the secure treatment facility and was placed on a regimen of strict and intensive supervision and treatment (SIST), under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).

         On July 20, 2017, respondent received and signed a copy of the SIST Order, outlining conditions of his release. Condition #13 stated "I will not behave in such a manner as to violate the provision for any laws or Order of Protection to which I am subject, nor will I engage in behavior that threatens the safety or well-being of myself or others." On December 22, 2018, allegations were made against respondent, which ultimately led to charges being filed against him for Forcible Touching in violation of Penal Law §130.52. After the alleged incident, but prior to charges being filed, a SIST warrant was issued and respondent was taken into custody.

         A hearing was conducted pursuant to Mental Hygiene Law §10.11(d)(4) on July 29, 30, and 31, 2019. The purpose of the hearing was to determine whether respondent is a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement as defined under Mental Hygiene Law §10.03(e). The State of New York was represented by Assistant Attorney General Breda Huvane, Esq., of the New York State Attorney General's Office. Respondent was represented by Peter J. Mitchell, Esq., and Eugenia Brennan Heslin, Esq., of Mental Hygiene Legal Services. The State called three witnesses: Jamaar S., Parole Officer Brian Kenny, and Dr. Jeanne Martinez. The respondent called one witness: Dr. Leonard A. Bard.

         Given that there already has been a determination that respondent does suffer from a mental abnormality, the adjudication of mental abnormality is not an issue to be re-litigated at this SIST revocation hearing. Rather, the only issue to be determined by this Court is whether respondent is a dangerous sex offender requiring civil confinement or whether respondent can safely be released back into the community on Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment ("SIST") (Mental Hygiene Law §10.11(d)(4); Matter of the State of New York v. Breeden, 140 A.D.3d 1649 [2016]). This Court is cognizant that civil confinement cannot be utilized as punishment or deterrence, but rather, must serve the objectives of providing the necessary treatment to sex offenders while also protecting the public against potential sex crimes (Mental Hygiene Law §10.01[a]). To support confinement, this Court must find, upon clear and convincing evidence, that respondent suffers from a mental abnormality involving such a strong predisposition to commit sex offenses, and such an inability to control behavior, that respondent is likely to be a danger to others and to commit sex offenses if not confined to a secure treatment facility (Mental Hygiene Law §10.03[e]).

         THE STATE'S CASE

         Dr. Jeanne Martinez testified that respondent suffers from a mental abnormality, supported by the diagnosis of Pedophilic Disorder, attracted to males and females, nonexclusive; Antisocial Personality Disorder; and Cannabis Use Disorder. Dr. Martinez detailed how she believed respondent's behavior, both currently and historically, meets the criteria of each diagnosis, and she opined that to a reasonable degree of psychological certainty, respondent is currently a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement. She was able to identify a detailed psychological portrait of respondent based upon her training and experience, her review of the official records, and the interviews she conducted. She noted that despite years of treatment, respondent has not internalized his treatment, has failed to develop an understanding of his own sexual deviance and sex offending cycle, and that his recent conduct demonstrates an expansion of his victim pool and his sex offense cycle.

         Historically, respondent's victims have been children. When he was 13-years-old, his victims included a 5-year-old girl, and a 7-year-old boy that he sexually abused. He was placed in DSS custody at a group home after those offenses. While at the group home, he physically assaulted a 9-year-old boy. After being released from DSS custody, he sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl. Several years later, at the age of 17 while he was on house arrest, respondent lured 3 girls into a secluded area where he sexually abused one of them. After serving his state prison sentence, he violated parole on two separate occasions.

         Regarding the current allegations, Jamaar S. testified that respondent entered his room without being invited and respondent engaged in non-consensual sexual contact against him. Respondent placed his hands between the complainant's legs and began to rub the area. Despite Jamaar S. attempting to move away from him, respondent persisted with his conduct and put respondent's hand down his own pants while mentioning he was bi-sexual and performing acts on himself, consistent with masturbation. He testified that respondent attempted to give the complainant DVDs, food and socks, and told the complainant not reveal his sexual contact to anyone. There had been no prior relationship or contact between the two and neither had been in the other's room prior to the incident. After the incident, Jamaar S. requested an order of protection and was relocated to a new housing unit. He indicated he didn't push respondent away because he felt paralyzed. He also was not aware that the District Attorney was looking for him because he had been moved out of the housing unit because of the report of abuse, and the District Attorney did not speak to him prior to consenting to the case being adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.

         Parole Officer Brian Kenny testified that Jamaar S. advised the officer that respondent engaged in non-consensual touching of the complainant and that respondent engaged in conduct consistent with masturbation while he did so.

         In addition to considering those facts in her evaluation, Dr. Martinez testified regarding her review of the treatment records and her interviews of the respondent and his treatment providers. Respondent has no relapse prevention plan in place. He also initially underreported his answers on a "Thoughts and Fantasies Questionnaire" in that he claimed having fewer thoughts and fantasies about prepubescent children. Respondent's treatment providers identified an unwillingness and/or inability to engage in appropriate consensual adult relationships in the community while on SIST, preventing him from developing and utilizing modalities to avoid inappropriate conduct. Respondent's treatment providers advised him that this was an area respondent needed to work on. Despite being told so by his providers, and despite his providers advising him ...


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