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RACINE COUNTY COURT FINDS PROBABLE CAUSE TO COMMIT JOHN SWEENEY TO TREATMENT UNDER CHAPTER 980

 

MADISON - Racine County Circuit Court has found probable cause to commit John Sweeney to treatment under the state's sexual predator law, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today. The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the state's petition to commit Sweeney to treatment on October 29, 2007, and probable cause was found on January 17, 2008, at a hearing before Judge Emily Mueller.

 

Chapter 980 of the Wisconsin Statutes relates to the control, care and treatment of sexually violent persons. Under Wisconsin law, a person may be subject to a civil commitment when the person has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has a mental disorder, and is dangerous to others because the mental disorder makes it likely he or she will commit further acts of sexual violence. A civil commitment is defined in Wisconsin law as commitment to the custody and care of the Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) for control, care, and treatment until the person is no longer considered sexually violent.

 

Sweeney was convicted of third degree sexual assault in 1995. He was set to be released on his maximum discharge date of November 3, 2007, but was ordered to be held in secure custody at a DHFS facility awaiting trial.

 

The state's petition alleges that John Sweeney suffers from mental conditions that predispose him to engage in acts of sexual violence. The petition also alleges that Sweeney is dangerous as his mental disorders make it likely that he will engage in future acts of sexual violence.

 

A petition is only an allegation, and John Sweeney is legally presumed not to be a sexually violent person unless and until proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be a sexually violent person.

 

Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Weise is representing the state.