Dean Wullenwaber, ISB #2506
Wullenwaber Law Finn
P.O. Box 452
Lewiston, ID 83501
Telephone: (208) 743-8981
Facsimile: (208) 743-9442
Mark Monson, ISB #6165
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 8456
Moscow, Idaho 83843
Telephone: (208) 882-0588
Facsimile: (208) 882-0589
Attorneys for Defendant
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF THE STATE OF IDAHO, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF LATAH
STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff,
STEVEN JAMES SITLER, Defendant.
Case No. CR 2005-02027
In the last six weeks, four (4) sex offender specialists have rendered opinions and recommendations supporting the conclusion that Steven Sitler should continue to parent his baby son at his home as he has already done for the last four months. These opinions and recommendations provide a factual basis upon which the Court should alter certain conditions of Mr. Sitler’s Probation.
HISTORY AND CONTEXT RE SPECIALISTS’ RECOMMENDATIONS
All of the four sex offender specialists — Mr. David Nystrom and Ms. Crystal Ren, both of Valley Treatment Specialties (herein: “VTS”); Pullman Psychologist Gregory Wilson; and Idaho Certified Psychosexual Evaluator Paul Wert — recognize that in July 2005 Mr. Sitler entered a plea of guilty to lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen (16) years of age, Idaho Code § 18-1508, and that in September 2005 the Court committed Mr. Sitler to the custody of the Idaho State Board of Correction (IDOC) for a period of life together with other penalties. All four of the sex offender specialists are aware of the number of victims in the remote past and the details of the sex offenses. Similarly, all four of them are familiar with Mr. Steve Lindsley’s 2006 psycho-sexual evaluation report regarding Mr. Sitler.
All four of the sex offender specialists report no allegations of “contact re-offenses” since before Mr. Sitler’s guilty plea of ten years ago.
In 2006 Mr. Sitler began sexual offense out-patient treatment at VTS. During the course of that treatment, Mr. Sitler completed six (6) phases of a structured treatment program and the chaperone training component. Later he was able to “graduate” the program successfully. (7/28 VTS letter, pg. 1, ¶. 2) The course of this therapeutic relationship with VTS has extended almost ten years in duration and has reflected a significant level of investment on the part of Mr. Sitler. (7/28 VTS letter, pg. 1, ¶. 2) During the course of treatment, Mr. Sitler complied with a variety of stipulations that were imposed both by VTS and by Probation and Parole. (Id.)
Mr. Sitler initiated assessment and treatment services at Wilson Psychological Services in 2006. He has participated in over 100 treatment sessions over this nine years, along with multiple assessment procedures and maintenance sessions. Mr. Sitler has also been accompanied to selective sessions by his parents and, more recently, by his wife. (Dr. Wilson 7/15/15 Affidavit, ¶. 9)
In May 2006 Judge John Stegner entered a series of Orders that included authorization allowing Mr. Sitler “to travel at his expense and by his vehicle directly to and from treatment with . . . Dr. Greg Wilson in Pullman, Washington. . .” (Order of May 5, 2006, nunc pro tunc to May 4, 2006, ¶. 19) Travel to Dr. Wilson’s office in 2015 presents substantial challenges to Mr. Sitler. This will be touched on at the Status Conference.
Mr. Sitler’s original supervision plan was put into place by the IDOC in 2007. A true copy of the 2007 IDOC Offender Family Contact Rules List is attached hereto as Exhibit A.
In regard to Mr. Sitler’s treatment performance and maintenance procedures, Mr. Sitler has successfully learned self-management skills; he has modified his cognitive and behavioral patterns consistent with treatment recommendations; and above all he has not re-offended. (Dr. Wilson 7/15/15 Affidavit, ¶. 10) Dr. Wilson in particular has commented that he has “. . . found Steven to be exceptionally honest at all times during his treatment and counseling.” (Id., ¶. 11)
All four of the sex offender specialists are aware that Mr. Sitler has been married for four years to an age-appropriate woman. In particular, Dr. Wilson has found Mr. Sitler’s wife to be impressive on her own merit, particularly as to her honesty and intelligence. Dr. Wilson finds that Mrs. Katie Sitler is an asset in this situation — more so than many spouses in similar circumstances. (Id., ¶. 12)
All four of the sex offender specialists are aware that Mr. and Mrs. Sitler now have a baby boy of 4 months of age and that Mr. Sitler has been parenting in his home with his wife.
Other aspects of Mr. Sitler’s history — particularly set out by Dr. Wert in his June 2015 report requested by Probation and Parole — are consistent with the history taken by the other three sex offender specialists. In particular, in connection with the birth of Mr. Sitler’s son, Mr. Sitler was initially told by Blaine Holman that he could have a normalized relationship with his son. (See Dr. Wilson 7/15/15 Affidavit, ¶. 8; VTS 7/28/15 letter, 4th ¶; Dr. Wert 6/19/15 Report, p. 2)
A word about the competence of certain people regarding the issue of rehabilitating sex offenders living with their children: Over periods of decades, all of the sex offender specialists have worked with men who have sexually offended minors and then later either reconciled with their wives or gotten married and, in appropriate cases, lived with children in the home while they were on probation. (VTS 7/20 letter, 7th ¶; Dr. Wilson 7/15/15 Affidavit, ¶. 15) Indeed, in Dr. Wilson’s experience he has reconciled offenders with their victims in the home! (Dr. Wilson 7/15/15 Affidavit, ¶. 15–24.) There have been several times in the past when Dr. Wilson worked with the family-member young victim while Mr. Lindsley worked with the family-member sex offender. At the right point in time they would work through family re-integration — where the sex offender and the mom and the minor victim began living together again. Dr. Wilson and Mr. Lindsley routinely worked on family re-integration in this context. Over time Dr. Wilson developed and implemented procedures for the successful “re-integration,” when appropriate, of family offenders and their in-home victims. (Id.) Of course, in Mr. Sitler’s case, neither his wife nor baby son were his victims [sic]
In Dr. Wilson’s experience, if the offender worked hard in treatment, especially for years, and followed the strategies learned and did not re-offend: residing at home with the probationer’s child has worked well. (Dr. Wilson 7/15/15 Affidavit, ¶. 19)
For approximately 10 years, Mr. Sitler has complied with a variety of stipulations and rules that have been put in place by VTS and by Probation and Parole. (7/28 VTS letter, pg. 1, ¶. 3) Mr. Sitler has complied with every Stipulation and request. (Id.) One of Mr. Sitler’s goals has been to “engage his future as a student, husband, and father.” (Id.) Throughout the ten year treatment process, Mr. Sitler has been able to maintain gainful employment and is currently a student in a Doctoral program. (7/28 VTS letter, pg. 1, ¶. 3).
Thus, Mr. Sitler has been an exemplary probationer. As VTS put it:
Steven has since maintained an offense free lifestyle for ten years. He has completed sex offense specific treatment. He has also been married for four years, and held a job while attending college. He has followed his current supervision plan without incident. He currently is following his own relapse prevention plan as developed with his treatment providers at VTS, and at this time has been successful. He continues to participate in both and group and individual therapy as a means to support and maintain his pro-social life goals. (7/28 VTS letter, pg. 1, ¶ 6 & 7).
Additional details regarding Mr. Sitler’s college experience: In 2011 he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering; In 2013 he obtained his MS degree in Materials Science & Engineering; and he is currently in his first year of a three year PhD Program in Materials Science & Engineering. (Dr. Wert 6/19/15 Report, p. 3)
In the late summer of 2014, after Katie Sitler became pregnant, Mr. Sitler told his Probation Officer, Blaine Holman, about the pregnancy. A couple of weeks later, Mr. Holman broached the subject of the position of his office regarding the birth of the baby. Blaine Holman told Mr. Sitler that he, Blaine, had discussed the issue with his superiors and that they had concluded that Mr. Sitler would not have to move out of the family home when the baby arrived.
In December 2014 Mr. Sitler failed two polygraphs. However, after a lengthy search process by IDOC no pornography was found on Mr. Sitler’s computers. (Dr. Wert 6/19/15 Report, p. 2) The Court will recall that the State withdrew the related alleged probation violation in its Order of March 11, 2015.
Shortly before the due date of the baby’s birth, Blaine Holman told Mr. Sitler that he would have to pass a polygraph test or he would not be allowed to live with his son. Mr. Sitler did pass such a polygraph about 10 days to two weeks before the baby’s due date. Mr. Sitler assumed that this would mean that he would not have to move out of the family home when the baby arrived. So, three or four days later — still about a week to ten days before the due date — Mr. Sitler broached the subject with Mr. Holman in Mr. Holman’s office to insure there was no confusion. Mr. Sitler said words to the effect that passing the polygraph meant “he could be a normal dad now,” and Mr. Holman replied: “yes.”
About six weeks ago Probation and Parole sought an update evaluation by Idaho Certified Psychosexual Evaluator Dr. Paul Wert. (Dr. Wert 6/19/15 Report, p. 1) Dr. Wert noted a comment of Mr. Sitler’s showing that Mr. Sitler’s attitude regarding his sex offender treatment after ten years has remained consistent with Mr. Sitler’s statements to the Court many years ago: “Mr. Sitler described being apprehended & charged as ‘the best thing that ever happened to me.’” (Id., p 3)
VALLEY TREATMENT SPECIALTIES’ OPINIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Mr. Nystrom and Ms. Ren have opined that Mr. Sitler should at present continue to parent his son in his home as he has done for the last four months. (VTS 7/20 letter, p. 2) In particular:
- “There is no indication that Steven needs to have “line of sight” supervision to parent his son.” Among other things, this means that when Mr. Sitler’s wife is asleep or if she is running an errand, Mr. Sitler’s main treaters believe he should be able to parent his son alone at home.
- “Steven should be able to adequately parent his son to meet his [the baby son’s] physical, emotional and attachment needs.” This means that Mr. Sitler should be a “normal” dad: holding his baby son; changing his diapers; feeding his baby; bathing his baby; playing with the baby on the floor; tickling his baby.
- “The original level of supervision outlined in [Mr. Sitler’s] chaperone agreement plan [See Exhibit A] should be altered. . .” This means — under all the circumstances of this case, including but not limited to Dr. Wert’s finding of no risk — that certain of the IDOC Offender Family Contact List Rules should be altered as to Mr. Sitler and his baby son: rules 1–3 under the “General” heading; rules 1 and 4 under the “Family Visits” heading; and rules 1–3; & 5–8 under the “Visits Home” heading. (See attached Exhibit A.)
- “Steven’s current relapse prevention plan, as well as his ongoing treatment and probation supervision, as well as increased polygraphs provide an adequate safety plan for Steven and his family at this time.” “Steven should continue in treatment as needed for ongoing support, polygraphs, family therapy as needed, and hold to his relapse prevention plan.” “This plan should be reviewed quarterly and updated according to needs and/or issues that may arise.”
That is, the safety net surrounding Mr. Sitler’s baby son includes meetings with VTS and Dr. Wilson at least three times per month at present along with other requirements of Probation and Parole.
GREGORY WILSON’S OPINIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS
In the opinion of Dr. Gregory Wilson, “Mr. Sitler is a positive candidate for successfully parenting his son in the family home.” (Dr. Wilson 7/15/15 Affidavit, ¶. 14, emphasis added) Of course, Dr. Wilson was/is aware that Mr. Sitler and his wife have been caring for the baby in the family home for approximately four months to this point. Part of the reason for Dr. Wilson’s opinion about Mr. Sitler in the family home with his baby son is what Mr. Sitler has accomplished in treatment over the last 10 years:
In regard to Steven’s treatment performance and maintenance procedures, Mr. Sitler has successfully learned self-management skills; he has modified his cognitive and behavioral patterns consistent with treatment recommendations; and above all he has not re-offended [for a decade]. (Dr. Wilson 7/15/15 Affidavit, ¶. 10)
Another reason for Dr. Wilson’s opinion about Mr. Sitler in the family home with his baby son is the successes Dr. Wilson has observed in more than 30 years of experience with men who have sexually offended minors and then later either reconciled with their wives or gotten married and had children in the home while they were on probation — including family re-integration — where the sex offender and the mom and the minor victim began living together again. (Dr. Wilson 7/15/15 Affidavit, ¶. 15–18) In Dr. Wilson’s experience, “if the offender has worked hard in treatment, especially for years, and has followed the strategies learned and has not re-offended: residing at home with the probationer’s child can work well.” (Id., ¶. 19, emphasis added)
That is, all of the important points Dr. Wilson has looked for in the more difficult family re-integration process have been accomplished here as to Mr. Sitler. Mr. Sitler has diligently worked in the Sex Offender program not for 2 or 3 years but for almost 10 years; he completed all of his treatment; he has a good record over a decade especially when one considers the level of surveillance over Mr. Sitler. (Id., ¶. 20) Additionally, Mr. Sitler’s wife has been fully informed of Mr. Sitler’s sexual assault history and she has completed chaperone training with Valley Treatment Specialties. There has been and is complete disclosure of everything between Mr. Sitler and his spouse. (Id.) Indeed, Dr. Wilson has found that having Mr. Sitler and his wife and his baby in the home “is less difficult than family re-integrations I have observed where rehabilitating sex offenders have lived with actual victims in the same residence.” (Id., ¶. 24, emphasis added)
As to the safety net around Mr. Sitler’s baby son, the steps appear straight-forward to Dr. Wilson “and have been successfully managed since the child’s birth in late March 2015.” (Id., ¶. 22) “Specifically, Mr. Sitler should remain on probation, he should complete requested polygraph examinations, he may meet whatever additional requirements Valley Treatment Specialties has put in place, and he should maintain regular maintenance sessions at Wilson Psychological Services — as he has for a good share of the last nine years.” Thus, as mentioned, between VTS and Dr. Wilson, Mr. Sitler will be meeting with three experienced, competent sex offender treatment providers at least three times per month at present along with other requirements of Probation and Parole.
PAUL WERT’S OPINIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Probation and Parole sought an update evaluation by Dr. Paul Wert. Dr. Wert’s basic conclusion regarding Mr. Sitler and his baby son is that this particular dad is not a sexual risk to his baby son: “[Mr. Sitler] does not currently present as a sexual risk to his son.” (Dr. Wert 6/19/15 Report, p. 6) In this connection, Dr. Wert noted that “there seems to be a certain protective element associated with a father offending against a biological son.” (Id., p. 6) In fact, in a frequently quoted study of more than 1,100 men, 16% described a history of having been sexually abused; although the perpetrator in 83% of those cases was male, 0% identified the perpetrator as being their natural father. Zero percent! (Id.)
Dr. Wert’s comments regarding recidivism shed a positive light on Mr. Sitler’s circumstances. That is, Dr. Wert referenced a study of more than 4,700 sexual offenders that, at 10 years, had a 20% re-offense rate but that from years 10 to 20, the recidivism rates increased only by around 4%. (Dr. Wert 6/19/15 Report, p. 6) Dr. Wert concluded: “Clearly, the majority of re-offenses occur within 10 years . . . post-offense.” (Id.) As mentioned, there have been no allegations of “hands on” or contact re-offences for more than 10 years. (Id.)
While Dr. Wert did not have current data or information available to him generated by VTS, he reached the same conclusion that they did — that Mr. Sitler was not in need of additional sex offender treatment. (Dr. Wert 6/19/15 Report, p. 7) Nevertheless, Dr. Wert noted that Mr. Sitler may wish to continue to see Pullman Psychologist, Gregory Wilson, PhD due to Dr. Wilson’s knowledge regarding sexual offenders. (Id., p. 7) As to the effectiveness of the years of sex offender treatment Mr. Sitler has received, Dr. Wert noted: “Steven reported that he no longer has sexual desires for children. He does not actively fantasize about sexual acts with children.” (Id., p 4)
Based upon the above facts, Mr. Sitler requests appropriate Orders of the Court including that he be allowed to parent his son in the family home as he has done for the last four months. Further details regarding such Orders should be discussed at the Status Conference.
WILSON APPOINTMENT DIFFICULTIES
Keeping appointments and travel to Dr. Wilson’s office in recent years has presented substantial challenges to Mr. Sitler in that a new travel approval must be obtained for every visit. Therefore, the Court should Order — similar to its Order of May 5, 2006, nunc pro tunc to May 4, 2006, ¶. 19 — that Mr. Sitler is authorized to travel at his expense and by his vehicle directly to and from treatment with Dr. Greg Wilson in Pullman, Washington, and that the Court’s Order obviates the necessity of Mr. Sitler obtaining new travel permits for each visit to Dr. Wilson; Provided, that Mr. Sitler must notify Probation and Parole 48 hours before each appointment as to the date and time and place of each appointment.
SUPERVISION AND TREATMENT TEAM
Paragraph 25 of the Court’s 2nd Order Modifying Probation dated September 7, 2007, provided for the creation and implementation of a Supervision and Treatment Team (Herein: “the Team”). The Team was to have consisted of Mr. Sitler’s supervising Probation Officer and Steve Lindsley and Dr. Greg Wilson, & others as appropriate; it was to have met (personally or by conference call) on a regular basis to monitor Mr. Sitler’s progress and to assist the supervising Probation Officer in giving such direction as may be necessary and appropriate for the furtherance of the Mr. Sitler’s treatment while maintaining the protection of society. The Order stated that recommendations might include, among other things, customizing treatment programing, and directing the Mr. Sitler’s activities as appropriate.
As mentioned by the undersigned at the Court’s Status Conference of June 1, 2011, Dr. Greg Wilson sought by telephone and email to set up such telephone meetings but his communications were not responded to and not a single meeting ever was conducted nor was Dr. Wilson included in communications during 2011 by the IDOC regarding issues having to do with Mr. Sitler. Therefore, the Court should Order the Department of Probation and Parole — and particularly Blaine Holman and his supervisor, Scott Douglass — to communicate with Dr. Wilson and to set up such a Supervision and Treatment Team for the purposes set out in the Court’s earlier Order.
COMPUTERS — SEARCH & SEIZURES DIFFICULTIES
During December 2012 Probation and Parole confiscated Mr. Sitler’s computers. Mr. Sitler did not receive them back until approximately three months later. There was some damage to them. Mr. Sitler’s grades suffered directly: he received two “B” grades rather than “A” grades because his major professor was displeased with what was going on. When no pornography showed up on the computers Blaine Holman required Mr. Sitler to take a polygraph as to whether Mr. Sitler had used scrubbers for hard drives or had used Linux OS. This polygraph was passed.
During December 2014 Probation and Parole also confiscated Mr. Sitler’s computers and other electronic devices. This time Mr. Sitler did not receive them back until approximately ten weeks later. There was some damage to them. Some of this Mr. Sitler fixed; the rest of it has not been fixed. Probation and Parole has installed on Mr. Sitler’s computers from time to time programs that monitor and record all activity that occurs on the computers. The current version is called “Web Watcher.” Blaine Holman installed at least the last two versions of these monitoring and recording devices.
Therefore, the Court should Order that when Probation and Parole seizes Mr. Sitler’s computers and other electronic devices, that they be returned undamaged and within one week.
HOUSE-KEEPING & UPDATING PREVIOUS ORDERS
There are several paragraphs in the Courts previous Orders — May 2006 and September 2007 are examples — that should be reviewed by the Court and Counsel in order to avoid or reduce confusion in the future regarding the details of Mr. Sitler’s probation conditions.
DATED this 30 day of July, 2015.
By: DEAN WULLENWABER
Attorney for Defendant
By: MARK MONSON
Attorney for Defendant
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that on this 30 day of July, 2015, I caused to be served a true and correct copy of the foregoing by hand-delivery to:
Latah County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
P.O. Box 8068
Moscow, ID 83843
MARK T. MONSON