Parties Debate Hospital Hold for Sex Abuse Defendant Pending Final Order on Civil Commitment

Parties debated if a child sex abuse defendant should remain at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, DC’s psychiatric institution, where he has spent over a decade of his life, following new developments in his case.

The defendant was charged with first-degree child sex abuse back in 2009 and, one year later, he was found unlikely to become competent to stand trial in the foreseeable future. He was then committed to St. Elizabeth’s under the Sexual Psychopath Act (SPA) until the law was invalidated last year due to the defense’s successful effort to challenge it. He was then once again found unlikely to become competent in the foreseeable future and parties are now awaiting a final order on a civil commitment.

According to the prosecution, the Department for Disability Services (DDS) and the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) would likely file a joint petition for civil commitment. The DBH is also reportedly going to consider if the defendant should be committed to inpatient or outpatient therapy.

The prosecution wants the defendant to remain at St. Elizabeth’s pending a final order on civil commitment.  

“The government makes this request for prudential reasons, as well as serious concerns about the defendant’s dangerousness, which, for all intents and purposes, can no longer be addressed through the criminal justice system,” the prosecution said.  

Defense attorneys Dana Page and Adam Thompson argued that the defendant should not be held because he is not mentally ill, but intellectually disabled, which does not merit his current hold.

Judge Danya Dayson acknowledged the parties arguments but emphasized she could not move forward with making a decision until both sides submitted written answers to the question, “if there is no mental illness being alleged then what authority does the court have to hold a person at a mental health facility?”

“If in fact someone is not mentally ill, but intellectually disabled, what is DBH’s ability to hold or treat the person?” she asked. “If a person has been found to be incompetent due to an intellectual disability, what is DBH’s stance on giving treatment to them and what is the court’s authority to order it?”

Judge Dayson continued the March 11 hearing so the prosecution could reply to the defense’s response to their request for continued treatment.

She ordered the prosecution to submit answers by March 18 and the defense to submit any remaining filings by March 23. Judge Dayson said she would make a ruling once parties submitted responses and she had read up on the case.

The hearing will resume on March 25. In the meantime, the defendant will remain held at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.