In 1979 P.H. was a parking lot attendant in a lot across the street from a New Jersey hospital. The nurses from the hospital used the lot to park as they came and went from work. Sometimes the helpful parking attendant would escort them to their cars. Until one of them noticed that he was masturbating behind his coat as he escorted her. She reported the incident and P.H. was arrested. He later admitted that his situation had begun by looking up the nurse’s skirts as they got in and out of their cars. He was charged with public lewdness. His first and only real girlfriend came to see him in jail, but he was too embarrassed by his actions to see her. He later said that he never saw that girl again and never dated anyone else.
In 1980, P.H. was caught masturbating in a public library in New Jersey. He later admitted that he had been to several different libraries over the previous nine-month period. Each time, he would see a woman whom he found attractive. He stated that he would become fixated with her and masturbate behind his coat or other article of clothing while he watched her. He stated that he would do this about two times a week. He told his state appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Erika Frances, that he preferred the aisles in a library because they provided him with a more private location.
In 1981, P.H. was arrested again for public lewdness. Between 1984 and 1985 P.H. told his Psychiatrist that his offenses of burglary, trespassing, and theft-related arrests and convictions were driven by his need to have money to buy cocaine. P.H admitted to Dr. Frances that his drug addiction had first begun when he was in ninth grade and started smoking marijuana. Coincidentally, P.H. also told Dr. Frances that he started dating girls that same year, though he had been having sex with college-aged women since junior high school. The only serious girlfriend that P.H. has ever had was a 17-year-old girl whom he began dating when he was 21. She is the one that he stopped seeing when he was arrested for public lewdness in 1979. They were only together for four years. He was unable to remain faithful even to her. He continued to have sexual contact with other women until his last sexual contact in 1993.
Also, between these years P.H. continued to use drugs. His drug use advanced from marijuana to pills and then to cocaine. P.H. advised that he struggled with crack cocaine addiction off and on until 12 months ago. P.H. told Dr. Frances that he believed his addiction had fuelled his voyeurism and exhibitionism. Dr. Frances stated that his addiction was only related to his offenses in the sense that crack cocaine is known to make people less inhibited. The drugs themselves did not make P.H. expose himself or watch unsuspecting women.
In 1993, P.H. was smoking crack cocaine on a street when a woman caught his attention. He watched her for several days determining where she lived. He then climbed onto a rooftop across the street and watched her through her window while she undressed. He masturbated while he watched her and fantasized about having sex with her. Then one night, he broke in to her apartment. He walked through her apartment enjoying his feeling of power. P.H. went into his victim’s kitchen and chose a knife. He returned to her bedroom and woke her up. He threatened her with the knife and made her handle his penis. When he was unable to achieve an erection, his victim began to struggle. She threw him off of her bed. He ran out of her bedroom, stole her purse and fled the scene.
P.H. has not denied any of the allegations. In fact, he has received treatment on several occasions for his sexual offenses while incarcerated. However, P.H. seems unable to resist the urge to commit these offenses again. The question of law that was brought up and addressed by the state of New York was whether or not P.H. should remain in jail pending a trial on upcoming criminal charges because he is a threat to the general public to commit another offense while he is awaiting trial.
The hearing before Judge Daniel P. Conviser was attended by Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General, New York City being represented by Breda A Huvane council for the state, Mental Hygiene Legal Service, New York City Sex Crime Lawyer, Donald Graham as council for P.H. The court was tasked with evaluating whether or not probable cause (probable cause being a legally defined abstract to represent that ability of the average person to believe that a crime had been committed and that P.H. more probably than not was the person who had committed it.) So the state has to prove that P.H. most likely was the person who committed the crime and that under the state Mental Hygiene law of New York, that P.H. can be defined as a sexual offender requiring civil management (supervision or detention). Once those two elements have been proven, the state then has to prove that P.H. cannot be released prior to his trial date because he is an undue risk to commit a similar crime while out on bail even under supervision.
In order to meet this burden of proof, the state assigned Dr. Erika Frances to evaluate P.H. He was open and cooperative with her. He detailed his prior offenses and told her that since undergoing treatment, that his urge to watch women through windows and to expose his genitalia to them was not as strong as it had been when he attempted to rape the woman in her apartment in 1993. In fact, he advised that he has not had sex with a woman since then. He also added that he prefers to masturbate since it does not involve too much of an investment in time. Dr. Erika Frances advised that his preference for masturbation reflected his distance to women as evidenced by his penchant for voyeurism and exhibitionism.
Dr. Frances advised the court in her testimony that she believed based on studies that she had read that P.H. was a high risk to repeat his offenses. While the court found her testimony credible, she did not, however, cite the details of either of the two studies that she based her beliefs on to the court. This failure opened the door for the New York City Rape Lawyer, Donald Graham, to claim that the state had not met their burden of proof that P.H. was a threat under the Mental Hygiene Law. This initial hearing was conducted on September 22, 2008.
Dr. Frances testified in front of the court that she believed P.H. suffered from three mental disorders: exhibitionism, voyeurism, and cocaine addiction. Dr. Frances testified that P.H. has exhibited no control over his urges to expose himself or peep through windows. She based this opinion on two studies that she did not describe in detail. Dr. Frances stated that P.H. could be expected to stop just looking and start breaking in and touching or raping. She expressed that he had already proven his propensity to accelerate his assaults when he broke in to the woman’s apartment in 1993 and attempted to rape her. Dr. Frances testified that on the two previous occasions that P.H. had been released on probation and under supervision, he had not only left the state on one occasion, but that he had committed a new offense on the other. Dr. Frances pointed out that P.H. had demonstrated humiliation and shame following all of his episodes, but that he had still not been able to resist the urge to offend. Dr. Frances also pointed out that P.H. had offended even while he was incarcerated by masturbating in front of female correctional officers. Dr. Frances stated that it was her belief that the only way to protect the citizens of New York from P.H. re-offending was to keep him in jail prior to trial in a secure treatment facility. She stated that he was more likely to view attractive women in a public place and even though he was shamed by his feelings, he had proven that he would act on them.
The Judge concluded that Dr. Frances had not met the required burden of proof that P.H. qualified as a sex offender under the Mental Hygiene Law based on the public lewdness charges because they are not listed in the law as sexual offenses. Judge Conviser also stated that voyeurism itself is not a crime at all, but rather other behaviors that a voyeur is likely to perform may in fact be criminal.
Judge Conviser did testify that even when Dr. Frances’ opinions are put aside there was still probable cause to believe that P.H. had the propensity to commit the same type of offense based on his offenses in the 1993 of attempted rape. He further stated that P.H.’s inability to control his actions would qualify him as mentally defect under the New York Mental Hygiene Law. Secondly, Dr. Frances had convinced the judge that P.H.’s behavior has a “predatory and stalking quality” that in and of itself would also qualify.
Thirdly, Judge Conviser stated that the known escalation of P.H.’s conduct from watching, to peeping and masturbating, to physical assault had begun as an example of his exhibitionism and voyeurism. This simple fact, left no doubt that P.H. could certainly escalate his behavior again.
The court decided that in this case the only way to protect the public from P.H. was to hold him in a secure treatment facility until trial. This determination was found based on a very small wording in one law. Here at Steven Bilkis and Associates, we provide New York Sex Abuse Lawyers, New York Child Pornography Lawyers, New York Sex Crime Lawyers and New York Sex with Minor Defense Lawyers. Being arrested and having your freedom taken away from you can be devastating. New York Rape Attorneys will stand by you and ensure that your rights are protected. New York Sex Crime Attorneys can argue your side and make sure that you and your loved ones are considered. We make sure that you are not wrongfully charged or convicted of any crime.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its New York Rape Lawyers has convenient offices throughout the New York Metropolitan area including Corona, New York. Our New York Sex Abuse Attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Without a New York Sex Crime Attorney you could lose your freedom even if the state has not adequately made its case. In addition to Sex Crime Law, Stephen Bilkis and Associates can recommend New York Personal Injury Lawyers who will help you.