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April 20, 1999

Court Orders First Civil Commitment of Offender Under Sexually Violent Predator Law

The State's first trial under the law was conducted today in Scott County. Court orders Elroy Morrow committed to Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders.

DAVENPORT-- Iowa District Court Judge James E. Kelley today ordered Elroy Morrow to be committed to the Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders, the first commitment under Iowa's Sexually Violent Predator Law that took effect July 1.


Following a trial before the judge today in Scott County District Court in Davenport, Kelley ordered Morrow, age 32, committed to the new treatment facility operated by the State Department of Human Services at the Oakdale Campus near Iowa City.


According to the new statute, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an offender has previously been convicted of a sexually violent offense and suffers from a mental abnormality that makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts constituting sexually violent offenses unless confined in a secure facility.


Most of the trial conducted today was stipulated, with written evidence entered before the judge with the agreement of both Morrow and the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown. Affidavits of witnesses and the report of a psychological evaluation conducted by Dr. Dennis Doren, a psychologist who is an expert in the evaluation of sexually violent predators, were admitted into evidence. (The affidavits and report were ordered sealed by the Court.)


Morrow also admitted in court through counsel that he meets the criteria of a sexually violent predator as defined under Iowa law.


The State also entered evidence that Morrow was convicted January 6, 1993, in Scott County of Third Degree Sexual Abuse, and convicted February 9, 1990, in Rock Island County, Illinois, of Aggravated Sexual Abuse. Court documents filed previously in the case indicated that the victims were age 13 and age 7, respectively.


In his order Kelley wrote: "The Court therefore finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the respondent's pedophilia and antisocial personality disorder make him reasonably likely to engage in predatory acts constituting sexually violent offenses if not confined and treated in a secure facility."


Morrow had been scheduled to discharge his sentence last August. His was the first case in which the Attorney General's Office filed a petition asking the court to determine an offender is a sexually violent predator and order civil commitment under the new law.


Judge Kelley today assigned Morrow to the newly-established Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders at the Oakdale Campus near Iowa City, a special treatment unit run by the Iowa Department of Human Services. Persons committed to the unit must be segregated from other patients, must receive treatment, and must receive annual evaluations and review by the court to determine whether their mental abnormalities have changed enough that the offender is safe to be at large.


Persons committed to the unit will be treated to the maximum extent possible as patients and not prisoners. They will receive comprehensive treatment including classes and groups, and group and activity therapy.


Attorney General Tom Miller said: "This case marks full implementation of the sexual offender commitment law, and that means we have one more tool to protect citizens from sexual offenders. Iowa also now has enhanced sentencing, public notification upon the release of some offenders, supervised release for some offenders, hormone therapy intervention, and stepped up treatment for first-time offenders. This full spectrum of programs is the best way to protect all Iowans from various kinds of sexual offenders."

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