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After spending over a decade at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a sex abuse defendant was found unlikely to become competent to stand trial in the foreseeable future.
The defendant was charged with first-degree child sex abuse in 2009. In a recent court document, the prosecution alleges that he is a “serial child molester” and has sexually assaulted at least four children aged 13 and under.
During the Feb. 25 hearing, after having received a report from the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), Judge Danya Dayson said the defendant can “parrot back” many of the legal concepts associated with his case, but that does not mean he has rational understanding of the case. She ruled that he is incompetent and unlikely to become competent in the foreseeable future.
Neither party opposed the DBH’s findings. The prosecution did, however, oppose the defense attorney Dana Page’s release request.
In light of the ruling, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for the District of Columbia may pursue a petition for civil commitment.
Upon being charged, the defendant was detained at DC Jail until his transfer to St. Elizabeth’s, the District’s psychiatric institution, the following August. In 2010, he was found incompetent to stand trial and unlikely to become competent in the foreseeable future.
The competency proceedings were then stayed and, in 2011, a judge ruled that the defendant is a “sexual psychopath” and committed him to St. Elizabeth’s under the Sexual Psychopath Act (SPA).
The defense appealed the finding and challenged the SPA’s constitutionality. In October 2020, the D.C. Court of Appeals invalidated the SPA.
Following that decision, another exam was ordered to determine if the defendant is competent to stand trial.
Judge Dayson questioned how she could enforce any court orders if she released the defendant. She said she did not want to leave open the possibility for detainment at DC Jail because the jail would not be a good environment for him.
Judge Dayson decided to schedule a hearing for March 11 to continue discussing release. In the meantime, the defendant will stay at St. Elizabeth’s.
Judge Dayson ordered that the defendant will continue receiving treatment. She also scheduled a hearing for March 25 for the OAG’s decision on civil commitment.
Andrea Keckley wrote this article.