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State v. Hill

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

August 17, 2017

DAVID HILL, Defendant.

          Submitted: August 14, 2017


          Jeffrey J Clark Judge

         On this 17th day of August, 2017, having considered Defendant David Hill's (hereinafter "Mr. Hill's") Motion to be Relieved from the Sex Offender Registry, the State's response, and the evidence presented at the evidentiary hearing, it appears that:

         1. Mr. Hill pled guilty to a single count of Attempted Violation of Privacy in 2004 after he used a foot camera in an attempt to surreptitiously view and video a female victim employed at the Dover Mall. The incident at issue occurred in April 2003. The Court sentenced Mr. Hill to two years at supervision Level V suspended for two years at supervision Level III. The conviction also required Mr. Hill's registration as a Tier I sex offender. Pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 4121(e)(1)c, at Tier I, Mr. Hill was required to register as a sex offender for 15 years following the effective date of his sentence. However, 11 Del. C. § 4121(e)(2)c allows a Tier I sex offender to petition the Court

for relief from designation as a sex offender, and from all obligations imposed . . . if 10 years have elapsed from the last day of Level IV or V or sentence imposed at the time of the original conviction, or from the date of sentencing if no Level IV or V sentence was imposed, and if the offender has successfully completed an appropriate sex offender treatment program certified by the State and has not been convicted of any crime . . . during such time.[1]

         2. Mr. Hill has complied with the conditions of his sentence since 2004, including the registration requirement. He had no criminal convictions during the intervening years. Accordingly, Mr. Hill has been properly registered as a sex offender for 13 years. He now petitions the Court, pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 4121(e)(2)c for relief from the Registry. The State opposes this motion arguing that the nature of his crime and the nature of his other prior similar bad conduct should disqualify Mr. Hill from obtaining this relief.

         3. When considering a motion to be relieved from the Sex Offender Registry, the petitioner must establish, "by a preponderance of the evidence, that the public safety no longer requires preservation of the original designation."[2] In determining whether the public safety requires preservation of the original designation, the Court must "weigh all the relevant evidence which bears upon the character and propensities of the offender, and the facts and circumstances of that offender's prior offenses."[3] The Court, in its discretion, may hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the petitioner is entitled to this relief.[4]

         4. The Court held an evidentiary hearing for this matter, and during the hearing, Mr. Hill presented the Court with a report from Mr. Ron Wolskee (hereinafter "Mr. Wolskee"), a licensed social worker who specializes in the treatment of sex offenders.[5] Mr. Wolskee met with Mr. Hill on one occasion to assess his risk of reoffending. In order to determine Mr. Hill's risk level, Mr. Wolskee interviewed Mr. Hill and reviewed the police reports referencing the convicted offense and other alleged offenses. In the interview, however, they discussed only the circumstances surrounding the offense for which he was convicted.

         5. Based upon this information, Mr. Wolskee testified regarding Mr. Hill's mental health, substance abuse, employment history, relationship history, and impulses. He determined Mr. Hill's risk assessment through the use of a Static 99 test. According to Mr. Wolskee, the Static 99 assessment is the most widely used sex offender risk assessment. It measures a person's risk level based on prior history and prior acts. Mr. Hill's score of 3 placed him in the moderate-low risk category. Mr. Wolskee also scored Mr. Hill as having minimal depression based upon the Beck Depression Index and as having low anxiety based upon the Beck Anxiety Inventory test. Finally, Mr. Wolskee scored Mr. Hill as "one hundred per cent alcoholic" based on the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test.

         6. Based on his evaluation, Mr. Wolskee opined that Mr. Hill is not a sexual predator or a threat to the community. Mr. Wolskee relied heavily on the fact that Mr. Hill has committed no criminal acts since the conviction for this offense. However, Mr. Wolskee also noted that Mr. Hill continues to have voyeuristic sexual fantasies, though Mr. Hill reports that he adequately controls any such impulses.

          7. Despite the fact that Mr. Hill only pled guilty to one charge, based on Mr. Hill's own admission during his testimony, there were other incidents of similar conduct over the course of three years (2001 through 2003). Mr. Hill acknowledged that in 2001 there were at least three separate incidents where he committed similar offenses at his place of employment with a video camera. In each incident, female victims were unknowingly photographed or videotaped in private areas. The Court finds that Mr. Hill did not share this information with Mr. Wolskee at the time of the assessment.

         8. During the evidentiary hearing, Mr. Hill also presented the Court with a letter from Eastern Shore Psychological Services LLC, evidencing completion of a treatment program certified by the State of Maryland. This program was a behavioral accountability program for persons who sexually violated or abused other persons. Mr. Hill attended this program from April 2004 through May of 2006, and the letter noted that a Risk Management Evaluation for Adult Male Sex Offenders found him to be at low risk to reoffend, provided he does not resume the abuse of substances.

         9. At the hearing, Mr. Hill testified that he was ashamed of his actions and that he did not want to further hurt his family by doing anything of a similar nature. His conviction caused a great deal of damage to family relationships, which have since been repaired, and he testified that he did not want to jeopardize those relationships going forward. Mr. Hill also testified that he believes registering as a sex offender hinders his employment options. Mr. Hill mentioned that he has also suffered harassment on occasion due to the fact that he is a registered sex offender. He maintained that these sexual offenses occurred because he was under a great deal of stress at work, he did not control his alcohol and marijuana use, and had difficulties with a prior marriage. However, he emphasized that he is now sober and that this will never happen again. Mr. Hill testified that he now has a strong support system in place and is better able to manage his stress.

         10.The police officer who investigated this incident, other Dover Mall related incidents, and incidents from Mr. Hill's place of work, also testified at the hearing. He detailed the nature of the offenses. He explained that the reason Mr. Hill was only charged with the Dover Mall related incidents in 2003 was ...

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