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In re Commitment of Tunget

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

June 29, 2018

In re COMMITMENT OF STEVEN TUNGET,
v.
Steven Tunget, Respondent-Appellant. The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 04 CR 80005 Honorable Dennis J. Porter, Judge, presiding.

          JUSTICE LAMPKIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Reyes and Justice Hall concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          LAMPKIN, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Respondent, Steven Tunget, was adjudicated a sexually violent person (SVP) as defined by the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (Act) (725 ILCS 207/1 et seq. (West 2008)) and subsequently institutionalized in a secure setting. The trial court later conditionally released respondent; however, the conditional release was revoked on the State's petition. On appeal, respondent contends that the trial court erred in revoking his conditional release and recommitting him to institutional care. Respondent additionally claims that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing expert testimony that relied upon a nonstatutory standard. Based on the following, we affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Respondent, who is 61 years old, was diagnosed with paraphilia, not otherwise specified; voyeurism; exhibitionism; and antisocial personality disorder. He was detained under the Act in 2004 after a finding that it was substantially probable that he would engage in acts of sexual violence. Thereafter, while institutionalized in a secure setting, respondent participated in the Illinois Department of Human Services' (DHS) sex offender treatment program.

         ¶ 4 On October 6, 2010, respondent filed a petition for conditional release. At the hearing on respondent's petition, Dr. Kimberly Weitl, a DHS evaluator, and Dr. Lesley Kane, an examiner appointed by the court, recommended respondent's conditional release. The trial court granted respondent's petition. DHS then prepared a conditional release plan requiring respondent to agree to abide by the 52 listed conditions of release. On August 20, 2012, the trial court approved the conditional release plan, which respondent agreed to by signing and initialing the plan next to each condition. In relevant part, the conditional release plan required that respondent (1) refrain from having any contact with other sex offenders outside the treatment setting without prior approval (Condition 16), (2) refrain from having any contact with a minor child without prior approval (Condition 17), (3) "provide a daily log of activities and monthly written reports as directed by the DHS case management team" (Condition 27), (4) comply with all conditions imposed by the conditional release agent and DHS case management team to restrict high-risk situations and access to potential victims (Condition 28), and (5) refrain from having anyone in his apartment without prior approval (Condition 50).

         ¶ 5 Respondent remained on conditional release until the State filed a petition to revoke that status. The petition was filed on July 15, 2015, and respondent was detained in a secure facility pending a hearing. On August 24, 2015, the State filed an amended petition to revoke respondent's conditional release, alleging he violated six conditions of his conditional release plan, namely, Conditions 11 (become self supporting and gainfully employed), 16, 17, 27, 28, and 50. The State's petition additionally alleged respondent's conditional release should be revoked to protect the safety of others. More specifically, the State alleged respondent (1) engaged in inappropriate conversations with women in the community and misinterpreted the women's intentions as sexual advancements, (2) failed to make sufficient progress in treatment, (3) frequently and intently watched his neighbors, and (4) consistently failed to be honest with his case management team. Prior to the hearing, respondent moved to strike the allegation that he violated Condition 11 where the State failed to present a sufficient claim to support revocation of his conditional release on that basis. The trial court granted respondent's motion.

         ¶ 6 The State presented three witnesses at the revocation hearing: Stephen Glazier, respondent's conditional release agent; Rhonda Meacham, respondent's conditional release treatment provider; and Dr. Weitl, who had been conducting periodic reexaminations of respondent for eight years. Prior to the hearing, respondent attempted to bar Dr. Weitl's testimony, arguing she had no relevant admissible opinion because her opinion differed from the statutory standard for conditional release and she inappropriately destroyed the notes she took during her consultation with Meacham and interview with respondent. Respondent's motion to bar Dr. Weitl from testifying was denied.

         ¶ 7 At the hearing, Glazier testified that, as respondent's conditional release agent, he monitored and supervised respondent while on conditional release through home contact visits and surveillance. Glazier used a written log to memorialize his contacts with respondent and wrote violation reports when respondent violated a condition of his release. Glazier stated that respondent was assigned an apartment by DHS and was limited to home confinement, like all SVPs, when first released.

         ¶ 8 Glazier testified that he completed a violation report on September 4, 2013, as a result of respondent violating Condition 17 of his release plan. More specifically, Condition 17 prohibited respondent from having any contact with a minor without prior approval, yet respondent sent a homemade birthday card to the daughter of his former girlfriend, Takika Winston. Prior to respondent's conditional release, he was explicitly told that he could not have any contact with Takika's daughter. Takika's daughter was believed to be 16 years old when respondent sent her the birthday card. Respondent told Glazier that he placed the card in the mailbox as he exited his apartment to meet Glazier. Respondent acknowledged that he was "not supposed" to mail the card.

         ¶ 9 Glazier additionally testified that, on October 20, 2014, he completed another violation report, resulting from three condition violations. The first was for a violation of Condition 16, i.e., unauthorized contact outside of the treatment setting with a sex offender. Glazier explained that, while conducting an unannounced home visit, he was standing outside respondent's apartment when he heard respondent's voice engaged in a conversation. Glazier knocked on the apartment door, but respondent failed to answer. Glazier proceeded to call respondent two times without success. Glazier continued knocking on the apartment door until respondent eventually opened the door. After looking through respondent's apartment and failing to find any occupants, Glazier inquired whether respondent had been on the phone. Respondent said no. Respondent acknowledged that he had been speaking through the window to another SVP named Troy K. in the adjacent building. Respondent initially reported that he spoke to Troy K. a few times; however, after further questioning, respondent admitted that he had been speaking to Troy K. twice a day for a few months. According to respondent, he and Troy K. engaged in "general conversation." They did not plan anything illegal or commit any sex offenses. Glazier testified that respondent previously requested authorization through the program to speak to Troy K., but was denied approval to do so. Respondent acknowledged he was not supposed to speak to Troy K. outside the treatment setting, yet he did anyway. Glazier stated that he was responsible for transporting respondent and Troy K. to treatment because they were on restricted movement or home confinement. Glazier drove them together to treatment, as well as to the grocery store and Laundromat.

         ¶ 10 Glazier testified that the second violation included in the October 20, 2014, report was for respondent's violation of Condition 27 because he failed to include his communications with Troy K. in his daily log of activity. Glazier described the daily event log as a log kept by the individual on conditional release providing the details of his or her daily activities, including finances, communications (in person and by telephone), reading habits, and television programs watched. The daily logs were collected and reviewed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Glazier explained that the purpose of the daily logs was transparency by the SVP with the conditional release team. According to Glazier, respondent only logged two dates, October 10, 2014, and October 15, 2014, for having communicated with Troy K.

         ¶ 11 According to Glazier, the third conditional release violation included in the October 20, 2014, violation report was for Condition 28, which required respondent to comply with all special conditions imposed by the conditional release agent and DHS management team to restrict him from high-risk situations and access to potential victims. Respondent violated the condition by communicating with Troy K., despite Glazier's prior instruction to not have outside contact with the fellow SVP. As a result of the conditional release violations, respondent's windows were covered on the side of the apartment adjacent to Troy K.'s building. Thereafter, in January 2015, respondent was relocated to another apartment.

         ¶ 12 Glazier further testified that, on April 25, 2015, he wrote a letter of admonishment resulting from a phone message he received from respondent. In the message, respondent informed Glazier that he was in his kitchen with the door open to get fresh air, which had been approved, when a neighbor knocked on his door. The female neighbor asked if she could walk through respondent's apartment to get to her front door because she was locked out. In the letter of admonishment, Glazier cited Condition 50 because respondent did not have prior authorization to have anyone in his apartment. Glazier added that respondent called him several times after leaving the initial voicemail. Respondent did not attempt to touch the neighbor. Glazier explained that respondent received a letter of admonishment and not a violation because he immediately reported the interaction.

         ¶ 13 Meacham testified that she was a licensed clinical social worker and sex offender treatment provider and evaluator. Meacham provided respondent's individual and group therapy while he was on conditional release. Meacham was deemed an expert in sex offender treatment.

         ¶ 14 Meacham testified that respondent admitted violating a condition of his release in September 2013 by contacting Takika's minor daughter. Respondent reported that he sent the minor Christmas and birthday cards, as well as a letter. According to Meacham, she had "many conversations" (between 5 and 10) in which respondent was told that he could not contact Takika's daughter.

         ¶ 15 Meacham also discussed events that occurred in June, July, and August 2014. The first interaction involved a woman who allegedly invited respondent to be her roommate. The second interaction involved a woman that respondent had contact with in connection with his medical transportation services. Respondent reported to Meacham that he rode in the front seat of the vehicle while being transported. The female driver purchased ice cream for respondent and put her hand on respondent's leg while they shared conversations about their families. Respondent also shared information regarding his participation in the program with the driver. According to Meacham, respondent withheld reporting the incident for a "period of time" and did not include the interactions in his daily logs. Meacham testified that the boundaries between respondent and the female driver were inappropriate. Later, respondent further informed Meacham that, during another transport with the same female driver, she disclosed that she was a victim of sexual abuse. Respondent then shared his own history of victimization with the driver. After that interaction, respondent requested that he only receive male medical transport drivers. Despite his request, the next time he needed to be transported, the same female driver arrived. Respondent told Meacham that the pair continued having personal conversations during the transport. The third interaction involved a woman at Target. Respondent told Meacham that he would become excited when he knew that he was going to Target, hoping he would "run into" the woman. Meacham testified that respondent's behaviors were concerning because he lacked the ability to establish boundaries regardless of the consequences. Meacham added that she was concerned with respondent's decision to withhold information from his care providers.

         ¶ 16 Meacham further testified that respondent engaged in concerning behavior in September 2014. At that time, respondent reported his observations of other individuals in his apartment complex to the building management. Respondent "seemed to have a great deal of information about some of the tenants in the building." This was concerning in light of respondent's voyeurism and exhibitionism diagnoses, as well as in terms of respondent's own safety because he was witnessing alleged criminal behavior within the building. In fact, in October 2014, respondent reported witnessing a drug transaction through his window. He called the police and "watched everything unfold."

         ¶ 17 Meacham added that, also in October 2014, she learned respondent had been communicating with another client in the conditional release program who was housed in the adjacent building. The pair had been communicating once or twice per day for a "couple of months" through the window. Meacham testified that the communications were violations of respondent's conditional release. According to Meacham, the pair had general conversations about their day and what they watched on television; however, they had a couple of "fairly negative conversations about their conditional release agents."

         ¶ 18 Respondent additionally reported to Meacham that, in October 2014, he had an interaction with a nurse at a doctor's appointment. Respondent believed the nurse "gave him a lingering handshake." According to Meacham, respondent interpreted the handshake as an ...


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