TERRY D. WILLIAMS, Appellant,
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
Palm Beach County; Charles E. Burton, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Ian Seldin, Assistant Public
Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Matthew Steven
Ocksrider, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for
challenges a final judgment finding him to be a sexually
violent predator and committing him to custody and treatment
pursuant to the Jimmy Ryce Act. He contends that the trial
court erred in allowing the State to present hearsay evidence
of prior, unproven allegations of sexual conduct, including
allegations from two cases on which the State did not file
charges and one in which appellant was acquitted of the
charges of a sexual nature. We agree that the court abused
its discretion in allowing the State to use these incidents,
as they were unreliable. Their use was not harmless. We
State filed a petition for involuntary commitment of
appellant as a sexually violent predator pursuant to the
Jimmy Ryce Act, section 394.914, Florida Statutes (2016). It
alleged that: appellant had been convicted in 1997 for two
counts of a sexually violent offense, namely lewd and
lascivious acts on a minor; he was currently incarcerated but
set for release; had multiple personality disorders and
suffered from pedophilia; and would be likely to commit other
sexually violent acts unless he was subject to long term
custody and treatment. The court found probable cause, as is
required under section 394.915(1), and appellant was held in
to trial, appellant moved in limine to exclude evidence of
any unproved criminal conduct, namely two incidents of
molestation of a person twelve or older, one in 2004 and one
in 2008. In each, although he was arrested, the State did not
file any charges against him. Appellant also moved to exclude
evidence of a 2010 case in which he was charged with
attempted sexual battery but found guilty of simple battery,
a lesser offense. Appellant never admitted the allegations
against him in any of these cases. The trial court denied the
motion in limine.
jury trial on the petition, the State presented a
psychologist as its sole witness. The psychologist testified
that he relied on the arrest reports for the above cases,
pre-sentence investigation reports, past judgments, and other
Department of Correction records to evaluate the appellant.
Appellant had refused to speak with the psychologist, so the
psychologist relied on appellant's prison record and
prior criminal history in determining that he was a sexually
violent predator in need of treatment.
psychologist first provided the details of the original 1997
incident which amounted to lewd acts on a nine-year old girl.
Appellant entered a negotiated plea to those allegations and
was designated a sexual offender. Over appellant's
renewed objection, the psychologist was allowed to relate the
details of the 2004, 2008, and 2010 incidents, which he had
gleaned from the various police reports on the incidents. The
2004 incident involved a lewd and lascivious act on a female
child between twelve and eighteen; the 2008 incident
constituted an arrest for a sexual battery on a
"mentally retarded" boy who was twelve year old at
the time of the incident; and in the 2010 incident, the
victim was a girl between twelve and sixteen years old who
reported that she had awakened to find her pants pulled down
and appellant kissing her buttocks and vagina. For the 2010
incident, he was charged and tried for attempted sexual
battery, but the jury found him guilty of the lesser offense
of simple battery. The probable cause affidavits on all the
incidents, the final judgment of the 1997 case, the
state's filing of a "no information" on the
2004 and 2008 incidents, and the final judgment of conviction
in the 2010 incident were entered into evidence.
psychologist explained that appellant had been screened for
commitment as a sexually violent predator in 2002 prior to
his release from prison for the 1997 conviction, but he did
not meet the criteria for a face-to-face interview when he
had only one conviction. In 2016, however, with four sexually
violent offenses, he now qualified for commitment. Thus, the
three incidents in 2004, 2008, and 2010 were the significant
qualifying factors for the psychologist's opinion.
jury found that the appellant was a sexually violent
predator. In its order, the court committed the appellant to
the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
Appellant filed this appeal, challenging the admission of the
three prior incidents.
contends that the court abused its discretion by allowing
admission of the 2004, 2008, and 2010 incidents because the
evidence was unreliable. A trial court's ruling on the
admissibility of evidence in this civil commitment proceeding
is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Delgado v.
State, 125 So.3d 180, 183 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013).
Jimmy Ryce Act applies the Florida Rules of Evidence but
contains a specific provision with ...