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In re Detention of Dake

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 23, 2019

IN RE THE DETENTION OF JAMES DAKE, JAMES DAKE, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Appanoose County, Shawn R. Showers, Judge.

         James Dake appeals the district court order adjudicating him a sexually violent predator and civilly committing him to the custody of the department of human services.

          Thomas J. Gaul of State Public Defender's Office, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and May and Greer, JJ.

          GREER, JUDGE.

         James Dake appeals his commitment as a sexually violent predator under Iowa Code Chapter 229A (2017). He argues the district court erred by concluding beyond a reasonable doubt that he had a mental abnormality that made him more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence. On our review, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Dake argues the State failed to present sufficient evidence that he posed a present danger to commit sexually violent offenses if not confined in a secure facility. Because the case involves competing experts analyzing Dake's history and diagnosis, we review that evidence. In 1981, when Dake was fifteen years old, he was adjudicated delinquent on one count of sexual abuse in the second degree after he fondled his four- or five-year-old female cousin. The court sentenced him to probation.

         Dake's deviant behavior continued after that first sexual crime. In 1994, Dake, then twenty-seven, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse in the second degree after admitting to having sexual contact with a five-year-old girl and a ten-year-old girl. The sentencing court sentenced him to fifty years in prison.

         Because of the nature of his crimes, while in prison, Dake participated in, but never completed, sex offender counseling in 1996 or 1997 and the sex offender treatment program (SOTP) in 2015. His participation in SOTP only lasted for three months until his removal when he "hit a guy in the mouth." Given a second chance to participate in SOTP in 2016, he refused because he "didn't want to be put through that kind of anguish." According to Dake, his prison record shows discipline for two incidents of assaultive or aggressive behavior.

         With a January 2018 discharge of Dake's prison sentence on the horizon, in December 2017, the State petitioned to have him adjudicated a sexually violent predator and civilly committed under Iowa Code chapter 229A. Dake remained in custody pending trial on the State's petition.

         During a bench trial, the district court heard testimony from Dake and two competing experts who interviewed him: Dr. William Schmitt for the State and Dr. Luis Rosell for Dake. Both experts diagnosed Dake with antisocial personality disorder. Together with that disorder, Dr. Schmitt also diagnosed Dake with pedophilic disorder. Conceding that Dake exhibited some criteria of pedophilic disorder, Dr. Rosell declined to give Dake a full diagnosis because he could not definitively conclude that Dake's behaviors had existed for the requisite amount of time.[1]

         The experts disagreed about whether Dake's antisocial personality disorder constituted a mental abnormality that made him more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence. Dr. Schmitt concluded, "[I]t is my professional opinion, to a reasonable degree of psychological certainty, that Mr. Dake's lifetime sexually violent recidivism risk exceeds 'more likely than not.'" Dr. Rosell ...


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