In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of: Bradley Neil Woltjer.Annotate this Case
This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480 A. 08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALSA06-2355
In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of:
Bradley Neil Woltjer
Filed June 12, 2007
Redwood County District Court
File No. 64-PR-06-88
James S. Dahlquist, 301 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 270, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for appellant Bradley Woltjer)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Allen Y. Louie, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Michelle Dietrich, Redwood County Attorney, P.O. Box 130, 250 South Jefferson, Redwood Falls, MN 56283 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Bradley Woltjer repeatedly sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl, sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl, sexually assaulted a mentally handicapped 15-year-old girl, and engaged in significant other criminal and antisocial behavior. Woltjer now challenges his indeterminate civil commitment as a sexually dangerous person. Because none of his challenges has merit, we affirm.
Bradley Woltjer appeals from his indeterminate civil commitment as a sexually dangerous person, arguing among other things that the state failed to prove that he engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct. The state filed a petition in February 2006 seeking Woltjer's civil commitment as a sexually dangerous person, based primarily on his criminal sexual offenses against three girls, which he committed over a span of about three and one-half years, beginning when Woltjer was 17 years old.
Woltjer's record of misconduct began in 1999 when he was 15 years old. His parents reported that he ran away from home at least four times that year. He received a 20-day suspension from school for sexually harassing a student on a school bus.
When Woltjer was 16, he sexually assaulted his six-year-old relative at least three times. Woltjer told police that he and his younger brother took the girl to an upstairs bedroom, removed her clothes, and took turns penetrating her vaginally. He initially admitted that he sexually assaulted her on two occasions. Woltjer pleaded guilty to one of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The district court adjudicated him delinquent, placed him on indeterminate probation, and ordered him to complete inpatient sex-offender treatment and to register as a sex offender. During treatment, Woltjer admitted that he had sexually abused the six-year-old girl weekly for four months. An evaluation report concluded that Woltjer lacked healthy sexual boundaries, development, and relationships. As a condition of his discharge, Woltjer participated in outpatient sex-offender treatment beginning in August 2001, but a psychologist terminated him from the program in December for moving in with a couple who had a 14-year-old girl in the home.
That same month, Woltjer, who was then 18, sexually assaulted the 14-year-old girl. Woltjer admitted to police that she was so intoxicated that she could barely stand when he had sexual intercourse with her. Woltjer pleaded guilty in 2002 to a reduced charge of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, admitting only that he touched the girl's buttocks without her consent. The district court stayed all but thirty days of a one-year jail sentence, and it placed him on probation. The court also ordered Woltjer to complete a sex-offender evaluation, follow all recommendations, and register as a sex offender. During the evaluation in March 2003, Woltjer admitted having sexual intercourse and sexual contact with the 14-year-old victim after a polygraph examination indicated that his denials were deceptive.
In June 2003, while Woltjer was 19 and on probation, he sexually assaulted his 15-year-old girlfriend, who was diagnosed with borderline mental retardation. The girl told police that while she and Woltjer were talking outside her parents' residence, he asked her to have sex. When she declined, he forced her pants and underwear down and penetrated her vagina with his penis. She told police that she tried unsuccessfully to push him away and that she had been a virgin. Police observed bruises on her thighs and arms. The girl testified at Woltjer's commitment hearing that the sexual assault was painful and caused her to feel worthless. She became suicidal, attended therapy for an extended time, and was prescribed antidepressant medication. Woltjer threatened to hurt her if she told anyone, and then sent her a profane letter. He also harassed her and her family, assaulted her father, and called her vulgar names.
The state charged Woltjer in March 2004 with multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct and with solicitation of a minor for sex. Woltjer pleaded guilty to the solicitation-of-a-minor charge in exchange for dismissal of the others. His guilty plea resulted in a finding that he violated probation for his 2002 conviction. The district court sentenced him to 150 days in jail, placed him on 3 years' probation, and ordered him to participate in and follow the recommendations of sex-offender evaluation. After his probationary release from jail in April 2005, Woltjer again reentered the treatment program from which he had been terminated. A program psychologist questioned whether long-term treatment would benefit Woltjer.
Woltjer was 22 years old in August 2005 when authorities discovered that he had again violated the terms of his probation by initiating a dating relationship with a 15-year-old girl. The treatment psychologist again terminated Woltjer from the sex-offender program, noting that all efforts to safely supervise and treat Woltjer had been exhausted and concluding that he would not be a viable candidate for future treatment in the program. The district court sentenced him to 13 months' imprisonment for violating probation. Psychological evaluations and sex-offender assessments determined that he exhibited a high risk of reoffending and merited a designation as a risk-level-3 sex offender.
After the state petitioned for civil commitment, the court appointed Dr. Linda Marshall and, on Woltjer's request, Dr. Thomas Alberg, to examine Woltjer to determine whether he meets the criteria for civil commitment. The court also ordered Woltjer to be held at the state security hospital, pending its commitment decision.
The examiners conducted independent psychological evaluations and filed separate reports. Dr. Marshall determined that Woltjer exhibits a narcissistic personality disorder, has difficulty in interpersonal relationships, is resentful, and has a low frustration tolerance and poor impulse control. She diagnosed Woltjer as having an adjustment disorder with a depressed mood and a personality disorder not otherwise specified with antisocial, paranoid, and narcissistic traits. Dr. Alberg diagnosed Woltjer as having mild mental retardation and an antisocial personality disorder. Both examiners found that Woltjer exhibited a high risk of engaging in future harmful sexual conduct and concluded that he meets the criteria for commitment as a sexually dangerous person.
Following a two-day trial in April 2006, the district court issued a 31-page initial commitment order, consisting of 152 detailed findings of fact derived from trial testimony and nearly 2400 pages of exhibits. The district court ordered Woltjer to be committed to the state sex-offender treatment program as a sexually dangerous person pending a final determination. The treatment program's report diagnosed Woltjer with paraphilia not otherwise specified, an adjustment disorder with chronic depressed mood, an antisocial personality disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning. The report noted concerns about Woltjer's history of reoffending even after treatment. It concluded that Woltjer continues to meet the criteria for commitment as a sexually dangerous person, that he continues to present a high risk of reoffending, that he is in need of comprehensive sex-offender treatment, and that the program is the least-restrictive alternative available to meet Woltjer's treatment needs. At Woltjer's request, Dr. Alberg completed an independent evaluation and report. His report also concluded that Woltjer continues to meet the criteria for commitment as a sexually dangerous person and continues to need sex-offender treatment for an extended period.
The district court indeterminately committed Woltjer to the treatment program as a sexually dangerous person, finding that the criteria for commitment continue to be met and that the program is the appropriate and least-restrictive alternative available to provide him confinement, care, and treatment. Woltjer's appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
Woltjer argues that the state failed to introduce clear and convincing evidence that he meets the statutory criteria for commitment as a sexually dangerous person. The argument lacks merit.
To establish that commitment as a sexually dangerous person is warranted, the state must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the person: (1) engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct; (2) has manifested a sexual, personality, or other mental disorder or dysfunction that does not allow the person to adequately control his or her sexual impulses; and (3) as a result, is highly likely to engage in future harmful sexual conduct. Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18c(a) (2006) (defining "sexually dangerous person"); In re Linehan, 594 N.W.2d 867, 873-74, 876 (Minn. 1999).
Woltjer limits his challenge to the first element and whether clear and convincing evidence demonstrated that he engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct. "Harmful sexual conduct" is "sexual conduct that creates a substantial likelihood of serious physical or emotional harm to another." Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 7a(a) (2006). A "course of harmful sexual conduct" is a sequence of such conduct occurring over a period of time. In re Civil Commitment of Stone, 711 N.W.2d 831, 837 (Minn. App. 2006) (rejecting argument that incidents of harmful sexual conduct must be similar), review denied (Minn. June 20, 2006). A conviction of criminal sexual conduct in the first through fourth degree results in a rebuttable presumption that the conduct created a substantial likelihood of serious physical or emotional harm. Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 7a(b) (2006); Stone, 711 N.W.2d at 837.
Although Woltjer concedes that his first-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction for sexually abusing the six-year-old girl constitutes harmful sexual conduct, he minimizes his other criminal sex offenses as "minor and not violent offenses." Preposterous. Without citing to any legal authority, Woltjer claims that because the two offenses that led to guilty pleas on reduced charges are not among the enumerated offenses that create a presumption of harmful sexual conduct, the underlying conduct cannot support a finding that he engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct. Contrary to Woltjer's argument, "whether an offender engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct takes into account both conduct for which the offender was convicted and conduct that did not result in a conviction." Stone, 711 N.W.2d at 837. The district court may properly consider alleged sexual assaults as a course of harmful sexual conduct, even though the underlying charges were dismissed or the victim recanted. In re Civil Commitment of Jackson, 658 N.W.2d 219, 225-26 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. May 20, 2003). Nonviolent but sexually harmful acts may also properly be considered as part of a course of harmful sexual conduct. In re Robb, 622 N.W.2d 564, 573 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Apr. 17, 2001). Additionally, a victim need not suffer actual physical or emotional harm; the proper focus is whether the conduct creates a substantial likelihood of such harm. In re Civil Commitment of Martin,661 N.W.2d 632, 639 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Aug. 5, 2003). That Woltjer pleaded guilty to offenses that do not presume harmful sexual conduct is of little consequence. And the district court specifically found that Woltjer "sexually abused" the 14-year-old and "sexually assaulted" the 15-year-old. The record supports these findings.
Both experts provided uncontroverted testimony that the girls will likely suffer emotional and physical harm as evidenced by physical pain and trauma from the sexual assaults and associated emotional trauma such as depression and stress. The many repeated, emotionally scarring assaults on Woltjer's six-year-old victim alone constitute a course of harmful sexual conduct. The experts also opined that Woltjer's first adolescent victim will continue to experience humiliation, resentment, and anger. The other adolescent testified that she was a virgin when Woltjer assaulted her, that it was painful, and that she felt worthless, was depressed, contemplated suicide, and underwent therapy. Clear and convincing evidence supports the district court's well-reasoned determination that Woltjer engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct.
Woltjer next argues in cursory fashion that the district court erred by finding no change in his condition since his initial commitment. He contends that his testimony regarding his meetings with a psychiatrist and his new antidepressant medication constitutes a significant change that requires a finding that he no longer meets the criteria for commitment. Woltjer cites no legal authority in support of his undeveloped argument and merely asks this court to reverse the district court's indeterminate civil-commitment order. His contention has no apparent merit. And we decline to reach issues in the absence of adequate briefing. State Dep't of Labor & Indus. v. Wintz Parcel Drivers, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 480, 480 (Minn. 1997). We also decline to address allegations that are unsupported by legal analysis or citation. Ganguli v. Univ. of Minn., 512 N.W.2d 918, 919 n.1 (Minn. App. 1994).
Woltjer also asserts that commitment as a sexually dangerous person violates the federal constitution's double jeopardy and ex post facto clauses. Woltjer acknowledges that the supreme court has addressed these issues and held that the civil commitment statutes do not, on their face, violate a committed person's constitutional rights. See Linehan, 594 N.W.2d at 871-72 (rejecting constitutional challenges). Woltjer nevertheless asserts that the district court, in dismissing his pretrial motion to dismiss, failed to consider potential expert trial testimony regarding the apparent constitutional flaws in the administration of treatment at the state's sex-offender program. As best we can surmise from the undeveloped argument, Woltjer asks us to consider unidentified testimony and dismiss the state's petition. For reasons already noted, we will not guess what legal analysis or what factual bases might exist in support of Woltjer's conclusory and insubstantial contentions.