By KRISTEN ZAMBO
RACINE — A state psychologist testified Tuesday that a man who was ordered locked away almost two decades ago as too sexually violent to return to Racine County should never have been placed in the treatment center for sexually assaulting three little girls.
Richard Elwood, a psychologist evaluator with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said while [name withheld] was convicted of sexually assaulting three little girls between 1990 and 1994 — when [name withheld] was between 10 and 14 years old — he was not a pedophile at the time, and still isn’t today after about 18 years behind bars.
“With Mr. [name withheld], the sexual contact with children was when Mr. [name withheld] was a child himself,” Elwood testified Tuesday during the second day of [name withheld]’s bench trial to determine if he could be released from Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston.
“I concluded (in 2010) he was not a sexually violent person and met the criteria for discharge. Mr. [name withheld] clearly didn’t fit the criteria for pedophilia before the age of 16,” Elwood testified. “One could have deviant sexual interests and not be a pedophile.”
Racine County prosecutors are fighting [name withheld]’s bid to be released into the community, which is backed by the Department of Health Services.
[name withheld], now 31, was convicted July 26, 1994, of three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child and one count of incest of a child. He was 13 years old when convicted of sexually assaulting the girls, who were 3, 4 and between 8 and 9 years old at the times of the attacks.
[name withheld] has been held in Sand Ridge since completing his sentence in the criminal cases because of a state law which allows a person to be confined in a prison-like setting for treatment after completing his or term sentence because of three factors. He must have been convicted of a sexually violent offense, have a diagnosed mental disorder, and have been deemed dangerous to others because a mental disorder makes it likely he will commit further acts of sexual violence.
According to state law, such involuntary civil commitments continue for an unspecified period of time until the person no longer is considered to be sexually violent — which is one reason why hearings such as [name withheld]’s occur.
Elwood said he evaluated [name withheld]’s case three times, in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Elwood testified he did not diagnose [name withheld] with having pedophilia, and opined that he didn’t fit the requisite treatment criteria to be placed in Sand Ridge in the first place.
Rattling off a list of seven doctors and the years they all issued reports on [name withheld], Assistant District Attorney Randy Schneider pointedly asked Elwood how he could be the only psychologist out of that slew to not only never diagnose [name withheld] as being a pedophile, but to maintain his opinion that [name withheld] never should have been committed to the sex offender treatment center in the first place.
“You’re aware that you’re probably the only doctor who did not diagnose him as a pedophile?” Schneider asked.
“I believe so,” Elwood responded.
Elwood said he used the medical definition of pedophilia used in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also called the DSM. According to this definition — which Elwood said is considered the standard for mental health professionals — someone with pedophilia must have “intense, recurring sexual fantasies or urges” for “sexual activity with a prepubescent child.” And, he said, the person must be at least 16 years old, have these urges for at least six months and they must cause a marked impairment or dysfunction.
“I don’t believe Mr. [name withheld] ever met the criteria for a ... commitment,” Elwood testified.
When questioned by Racine County Circuit Judge Tim Boyle, Elwood explained if [name withheld] is released he might re-offend, but “certainly the likelihood is far less than 50 percent.”
But another psychologist who testified Tuesday disagreed.
The base rate of the likelihood that a convicted juvenile sex offender may victimize another person after being released from a treatment center falls somewhere between a 5 and 10 percent chance, said clinical neuropsychologist Debra Anderson. Elwood said the base rate is 7.1 to 8 percent.
“You have an individual who has jettisoned himself well above that base rate,” Anderson testified Tuesday. “Yes, he does have a mental disorder and yes, his risk remains high,” she said, explaining [name withheld] has pedophilia. “...I see him more likely than not to re-offend.”
More than a decade ago, [name withheld] was deemed a sexually violent person through a separate, civil proceeding in court.
Boyle could rule after the testimony ends Wednesday, or at a later date, whether [name withheld] should be released.
The trial, which began Monday, continues this morning.