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In re Commitment of Stevens

January 27, 2004


[6] Appeal from Circuit Court of Adams County No. 00MR1 Honorable Mark A. Schuering, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann

[8]  In July 2001, a jury found respondent, William J. Stevens, to be a sexually violent person under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (Act) (725 ILCS 207/1 through 99 (West 2000)). Following an August 2001 dispositional hearing, the trial court ordered him committed to the Department of Human Services (DHS) for institutional care in a secure setting.

[9]  Respondent appeals, arguing that (1) the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a Frye evidentiary hearing (see Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923)) on the admissibility of evidence regarding actuarial instruments used by the State's experts in assessing respondent's risk of reoffending; and (2) the jury's finding was against the manifest weight of the evidence. We disagree and affirm.


[11]   In January 2000, the State initiated proceedings under the Act to commit respondent to DHS indefinitely. At that time, respondent was an inmate at the Western Illinois Correctional Center and was scheduled for entry into mandatory supervised release on January 12, 2000, following the completion of his sentence on 1996 convictions for aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-16(d) (West 1996)) and aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-4 (West 1996)).

[12]   In February 2001, respondent filed a motion for a Frye evidentiary hearing to determine the admissibility of evidence regarding actuarial risk-assessment instruments used by the State's experts in assessing respondent's risk of reoffending. Alternatively, respondent's motion sought to bar such evidence. Later that month, the State filed a response to respondent's motion. In March 2001, the trial court conducted a hearing on respondent's motion, and after considering counsels' arguments, the court denied the motion in all respects.

[13]   At respondent's July 2001 trial, Jacqueline Buck, a clinical psychologist and special evaluator for the Department of Corrections (DOC), testified that she had reviewed respondent's DOC master file, which contained all of the court records related to respondent, including the sentencing order, the presentence investigation reports, psychiatric and psychological evaluations, DOC records, and his criminal history.

[14]   Buck's review of respondent's master file showed that when respondent was five or six years old, his mother reported to the police that he had been sexually abused by a 16-year-old boy. He had also been abused by his sister when he was an infant. When respondent was five years old, he was found maneuvering in a sexual way on top of a four-year-old girl. Both children were clothed. When he was seven years old, respondent was found on top of a little girl, rubbing his exposed penis against her. Around that same time, respondent entered foster care and was subsequently placed in several different homes due to his having difficulty with other children.

[15]   When respondent was 12 years old, it was reported that he had sexually molested two 5-year-old boys in a foster home. Buck acknowledged that she received this information in a telephone conversation with the Adams County State's Attorney, not from any documents in respondent's master file. However, she stated she had no reason to disbelieve the report, and respondent was removed from the foster home where the incident allegedly occurred.

[16]   When respondent was 13 years old, he took a 15-year-old girl who had some "intellectual deficits" into a stairwell and "performed sexual acts." Buck found it clear from the police report that the girl did not understand what respondent was doing to her.

[17]   When respondent was 14 years old, he took a 13-year-old girl (who respondent had referred to as his "girlfriend") into the bathroom at his foster home and "made her disrobe." He also undressed, and fondled the girl's breasts and attempted vaginal and anal intercourse. He then demanded that she perform oral sex on him, and he ejaculated on the bathroom wall. The girl was crying during the oral sex. As a result of this incident, respondent was adjudicated delinquent for aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-16 (West 1998)). Respondent was committed to DOC juvenile division.

[18]   Respondent was also charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy who was mentally and physically disabled and a member of respondent's foster household. The report indicated that respondent fondled the boy's penis in a bedroom while another boy stood guard outside the door. The charge was dropped when respondent pleaded guilty to some other pending charges.

[19]   Respondent's master file also contained an April 1992 juvenile DOC disciplinary report, which stated that respondent had pressured another boy for a sexual favor and had threatened to split the boy's head open.

[20]   Buck interviewed respondent in October 1999. Based on the interview and her review of respondent's master file and other information, Buck diagnosed respondent with paraphilia not otherwise specified (paraphilia NOS), sexually attracted to non-consenting persons (nonexclusive type). Her diagnosis was based on the evidence that beginning at age 12, respondent established a pattern of victimizing "younger people or people mentally retarded or disabled in some way."

[21]   She also diagnosed respondent with "polysubstance dependencies without physiological dependency and in a controlled environment," based on the evidence of respondent's long history of substance abuse. She further explained that substance abuse was a factor in determining respondent's probability of re-offending with additional acts of sexual violence because substance abuse contributes to a loss of ability to control sexual urges. Respondent had not participated in any substance-abuse treatment.

[22]   Buck also diagnosed respondent with antisocial personality disorder. Seven criteria exist for that diagnosis, and the presence of any three warrants the diagnosis. Respondent satisfied all seven criteria. Buck described antisocial personality disorder as "a pervasive disregard for and violation of the rights of others." The diagnosis is relevant to respondent's probability of reoffending because a person with this disorder lacks empathy or concern for other people. Buck described respondent as good at charming people to get what he wants, and respondent described himself as being "devoid of feelings." Buck further explained that "by being cut off from his feelings he is able to inflict a lot of harm on other people and not feel any remorse or shame or sorrow for that."

[23]   Buck used "several" actuarial risk-assessment instruments to assess respondent's probability of reoffending, and she concluded that his risk was "extremely high." (The record shows that Buck administered the following instruments: (1) the Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool-Revised; and (2) the Violence Risk Assessment Guide.) She subsequently administered the "Sex Offender Risk Assessment Guide," on which respondent scored in the 99th percentile. This score placed respondent in the category of offenders with a 100% probability of reoffending within 7 or 10 years. Buck also administered a personality inventory (the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised) in evaluating respondent.

[24]   Respondent's master file showed that he refused sex- offender treatment on three different occasions while at DOC. Respondent told Buck that he did not need treatment. He said that all he needed to do was "grow up" and he had done that. Buck acknowledged that documents in the master file indicated that respondent successfully completed a sex-offender education program and sex-offender treatment at the Illinois Youth Center in Joliet. However, in her interview with respondent, he did not admit that he had participated in treatment and would not tell Buck anything he had learned in any sex-offender program.

[25]   Buck opined that should respondent be released to the community, it was substantially probable that he would reoffend with additional acts of sexual violence due to his untreated diagnoses of paraphilia NOS, sexually attracted to non-consenting persons (nonexclusive type), polysubstance dependency, and antisocial personality disorder.

[26]   Robin Weaver testified that on November 21, 2000, she was employed as a DHS security therapy aide. On that date, she and another staff member were transporting respondent, who was in restraints, to the Adams County courthouse. While walking respondent to the van, he became agitated and resisted getting into the van. Once he was inside the van, he laid down on his back and began kicking the interior of the van. After about 10 minutes, respondent calmed down and Weaver and her colleague entered the front compartment of the van. However, before they drove off, Weaver's colleague left the van to take a telephone call. At that point, respondent said to Weaver, in a low tone, "'You think you are better than me, don't you. You are all high and mighty looking down on me. *** Well, bitch. You are not any better than me.'" Weaver told him to be quiet. Respondent then said, "'You think you are tough, don't you? *** Well, that tin badge don't make you tough, bitch. You are not tough. You are just full of cellulite.'" Respondent's last remarks to Weaver were, "'I will throw you down and stick my pipe in you. We will see how tough you are then. We will see then how tough you are when I do this'"; and "'Well, hell, you can't even control me with these handcuffs on. How are you going to do it when they are off?'" Weaver stated that she was terrified by respondent when he said these things.

[27]   Phil Reidda, a clinical psychologist, testified that he had been appointed by the Adams County circuit court to evaluate respondent. He reviewed respondent's DOC master file, administered psychological tests, and conducted a clinical interview, which lasted approximately 3 1/2 hours.

[28]   Reidda administered the following tests to respondent: (1) the Gamma General Mental Ability Test, which is a cursory evaluation of intelligence; (2) the Millon Multiaxial Personality Inventory Assessment, which generates a personality profile; and (3) the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Respondent's score on the Gamma Test was "a little high average." The results of the Millon Assessment indicated that respondent had antisocial personality disorder, and the results of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory underscored the conclusions of the Millon Assessment. The personality tests indicated that respondent was defiant, had conflict with authority, and had problems with his self-image. Reidda ...

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