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People v. Masterson

October 02, 2003


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rarick


Docket No. 93579-Agenda 2-March 2003.

Respondent, James Masterson, was charged with two counts of attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault and two counts of indecent solicitation of a child. During the pendency of the criminal charges, the State instituted civil commitment proceedings, seeking to have respondent declared a sexually dangerous person as that term is defined in section 1.01 of the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (SDPA) (725 ILCS 205/1.01 (West 1998)). After a hearing on the State's petition, the circuit court declared respondent a sexually dangerous person and ordered his commitment. Respondent's motion to reconsider was denied, and he appealed.

The appellate court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court. No. 1-99-1318 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). We ultimately allowed respondent's petition for leave to appeal (177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a)).

Before this court, respondent argues that his commitment as a sexually dangerous person should be reversed because (1) the evidence was insufficient to satisfy the constitutional requirement that he has "serious difficulty" controlling sexually dangerous behavior, (2) the State's evidence was insufficient to satisfy the statutory requirement that he committed the criminal act which served as the basis for civil commitment, and (3) the appellate court erred in relying exclusively on a purported 1984 conviction to meet the demonstrated propensities requirement of the SDPA.


On February 17, 1997, respondent was charged by indictment in the circuit court of Cook County with two counts of attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault and two counts of indecent solicitation of a child. The intended victim was a 12-year-old girl. Criminal charges were pending when, on January 20, 1998, the State filed a petition to declare respondent a sexually dangerous person. The State requested the appointment of two psychiatrists to examine respondent. Pursuant to the circuit court's order, respondent was subsequently examined by Drs. Stafford Henry and Haidari Shikari. After examining the respondent, both concluded that respondent qualified as a sexually dangerous person as defined in the SDPA. The record indicates that a third psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Lahmeyer, later examined respondent pursuant to respondent's request, and came to the same conclusion.

A hearing was held on the petition on February 8, 1999. At the hearing, Anna K. testified that she and respondent had been involved in a sexual relationship for four or five years when, on February 15, 1997, he gave her a letter wherein he stated that he wanted to "rub up against" her 12-year-old daughter, T.K., and look at pornographic magazines and videos with T.K. Although respondent emphasized that both he and T.K. would be fully clothed, he expressed his desire to either massage T.K. or simulate anal intercourse with her. Anna testified that respondent often paid her to perform sexual acts and respondent indicated he would pay both her and T.K. if Anna allowed him to engage in the acts described in the letter.

Anna gave the letter to a police officer, who told her to tell respondent she would agree to the requests outlined in the letter. Respondent telephoned several times that day, and each time Anna assured him that she would agree to his requests. She planned to meet with respondent on February 17 so respondent could give her the money requisite to a meeting with T.K.

On February 17, respondent drove Anna to a store to pick up some products he had ordered. At that time, Anna noticed respondent was carrying a gym bag that usually contained pornographic materials. Anna then told respondent that T.K. was home alone and respondent should go back to the house. After respondent dropped Anna off at her destination, Anna telephoned her son and told him to make sure that T.K. was upstairs when respondent arrived. Anna then called the police and informed them that respondent was on his way to her house.

Officer Thomas Hennigan testified he and his partner were assigned to investigate Anna's allegations against respondent. On February 17, 1997, Anna called Hennigan and told him that respondent was on his way to her house to meet with T.K. En route to Anna's house, Hennigan and his partner saw respondent drive past them in a white truck. The officers stopped respondent and arrested him. The officers searched respondent's truck and recovered a gym bag containing 53 pornographic magazines and 3 pornographic video tapes. The officers also found a pair of handcuffs in the bag. A statement by the prosecutor during respondent's commitment hearing indicates that the magazines depict "women" in a sexual context.

Detective Edward Winstead testified that he interviewed respondent at the police station on the day of his arrest. Respondent admitted he had written the letter Anna gave to the police. In the letter, respondent stated he wanted to either "massage" T.K. or simulate anal intercourse with her. Respondent said, when he wrote the letter, he had wanted to "rub against" T.K. while they looked at the magazines and watched the videos that were subsequently recovered from his truck. Respondent acknowledged that he had brought the magazines to Anna's residence for that purpose. Respondent indicated that, when he drove to Anna's house, he thought T.K. would be there alone; however, when respondent entered the house and saw T.K.'s older brother, respondent became alarmed and left. Notwithstanding the pursuit of procedures consistent with the stated intent of his letter and his discussions with Anna, respondent told Winstead, at one point in the interview, that he had changed his mind and did not intend to touch T.K. on that day. Respondent conceded he had not told Anna, or anyone else, that he had changed his mind. Moreover, he acknowledged that he wanted to perform the acts described in the letter.

The State presented the testimony of Drs. Henry and Shikari, both of whom testified that respondent was a pedophile and a sexually dangerous person. Dr. Henry testified he was employed as a forensic psychiatrist with the Office of Forensic Clinical Services and, in that capacity, he had evaluated more than 500 patients. In 1992, Henry received his license to practice medicine in Illinois. That year, he completed his residency at the University of Michigan's department of psychiatry. In 1994, Henry became board certified in psychiatry. In 1996, he was certified in forensic psychiatry, and in 1998 he was certified in addiction psychiatry. Henry testified that he was a member of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Illinois Psychiatric Society. He had previously qualified to testify as an expert in the field of forensic psychiatry.

Upon cross-examination, Henry conceded he had been asked to determine whether a person was sexually dangerous on "less than three" occasions. Respondent's examination fell "somewhere between one and three." Though he had assessed or diagnosed 50 pedophiles during his career, he had never treated any of those persons.

Based upon his limited examination of Henry, respondent's attorney argued that Henry did not meet the statute's requirements and thus was not a "qualified psychiatrist," as defined in the SDPA. The SDPA defines a "qualified psychiatrist" as "a reputable physician licensed in Illinois to practice medicine in all its branches, who has specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and nervous disorders for a period of not less than 5 years." 725 ILCS 205/4.01 (West 2000). The circuit court ruled that Henry qualified to testify as an expert in the field of forensic psychiatry. The court noted that Henry had been licensed to practice medicine in 1992 and, based upon his education, training and experience, he qualified as an expert under the statute. Henry then proceeded to testify.

Prior to his interview with respondent, Henry reviewed records from Christ Hospital and the Chicago police department, as well as the letter respondent wrote to Anna. By the time he testified, Henry had also reviewed records from Avelante, a treatment program in which respondent had participated. Henry interviewed respondent on March 13, 1997. In the course of his interview with respondent, Henry and respondent discussed respondent's activities up to the date of the examination. In essence, the discussion focused on three documented instances of sexual misconduct: one in 1983, another in 1984, and the final incident in 1997, which prompted the filing of the instant petition.

A police report revealed that, in 1983, respondent had fondled a 15-year-old girl after having threatened her with a screwdriver. Henry testified that respondent did not initially admit to the 1983 sexual assault. When Henry told respondent he was aware of the incident, respondent said he did not want to discuss it. He stated it had happened because he was mad. According to Henry, respondent eventually admitted that he had approached the girl with a screwdriver, had fondled her, and then had followed her into a school, where he was arrested. In a probation department report prepared prior to the commitment hearing, it is noted that respondent indicated he "was sentenced to psychiatric treatment" as a result of this incident. Henry testified that treatment took place at Christ Hospital.

Although Henry initially testified otherwise, under cross-examination Henry admitted respondent had provided no information regarding another incident that took place in 1984. Henry eventually conceded his information had come solely from "police reports." Those reports evidently indicated respondent had developed a friendship with a 12-year-old girl and her brother for the apparent purpose of furthering his sexual objectives. On the date of the sexual assault, respondent allegedly sent the girl's brother into a fast-food restaurant, then placed the girl on his lap, and looked at pornographic magazines with her while he fondled her vagina. According to Henry, respondent was "charged with a sexual offense" for his conduct with the girl. Respondent was 20 years old at the time. We note that the report prepared by the probation department indicates respondent had received a one-year conditional discharge on May 3, 1985, for criminal sexual abuse.

With respect to the 1997 incident involving 12-year-old T.K., respondent told Henry he was drunk when he wrote the letter to Anna K. and he did not intend to follow through with the activities described therein.

Henry described pedophilia as a major psychiatric illness characterized by repeated fantasies and activities involving sexual contact with children. Henry testified that the diagnosis requires a six-year age differential between perpetrator and victim. Henry stated that the disorder is reported to cause the afflicted person "distress and difficulty." In fact, significant impairment or distress is required as part of the criteria for diagnosis. The disorder is chronic and lifelong, and is exacerbated by stress.

Henry observed that people who suffer from pedophilia tend to minimize or deny their pedophilic behavior. Henry noted that respondent denied or minimized his conduct when he discussed his sexual behavior. Respondent told Henry he had been ostracized by his family because of his sexual conduct. Respondent had developed a dependence on alcohol, and the incidents of pedophilia appeared to be linked to that dependence. According to Henry, respondent conveyed a sense of inadequacy and indicated that he felt incapable of having a mature relationship.

Henry testified that his examination of respondent revealed numerous "psychological stressors" in respondent's life. Henry noted that respondent's parents had recently died, respondent had been ostracized by his sister because of his activities, he had a very limited social support network, chronic financial difficulties, and a "somewhat modulized [sic] existence," and he was unemployed and alcohol dependent. Henry indicated the presence of these ...

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