Commitment of: Steven Charles Kaelble

Posted: 4th May 2011 by Doc in Uncategorized
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Appellant Steven Charles Kaelble was first convicted of a criminal-sexual-conduct offense in 1989. At the trial on that offense, the victim, P.L., testified that she was unloading groceries from her car when another vehicle approached. She assumed the driver, later identified as Kaelble, was going to ask her for directions. Instead, Kaelble grabbed her from behind, told her he had a gun, and made her get into his car. Next, Kaelble told her that the dog in his car, Bear, was part wolf and part German Shepherd and was trained to kill. Kaelble ordered P.L. to perform oral sex on him while he drove. P.L. testified that she did what Kaelble told her to do because she was frightened and because Kaelble threatened to hurt her if she did not comply.
P.L. testified that Kaelble took her to an ice-fishing house on Lake Jane, where he cut off her bra with a pocket knife, blind-folded her with it, tied her up, injected her with methamphetamine, and engaged in oral sex and vaginal intercourse with her. She testified that after she was injected with the drugs, she felt like everything that was happening was all right. The effects of the methamphetamine lasted for more than a day. She testified that she did not use illicit drugs and had given up drinking nine years earlier. After the assault at the ice-fishing house, Kaelble drove P.L. to her apartment and sexually assaulted her at her apartment. P.L. testified that Kaelble told her that he had been thinking about doing something like this for a long time and that she happened to be the woman he chose.
Kaelble was convicted of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of using drugs to facilitate the commission of a crime, one count of kidnapping, and one count of distribution of a controlled substance for his sexual assault of P.L. The district court sentenced Kaelble to 129 months in prison, which was a triple upward durational departure. This court reduced his sentence to 86 months.

In November 1993, Kaelble was released from prison and placed on intensive supervised release (ISR). He initially resided in a halfway house. In January 1994, he moved to his own apartment. Kaelble was required to meet twice a month with his ISR officer and to provide urinalysis samples for drug and alcohol screening. While on ISR, Kaelble attended eight psychoeducational classes at Alpha Human Services, which covered the topics of sex, sexuality, intimacy, love, shame, guilt, stress management, the impact of sexual abuse on victims, boundaries, touch, sexual fantasy, masturbation, pornography, anger management, and relapse prevention. On the final assessment, Kaelble scored a 93% and stated that the program gave him “good insights on some problems I’ve had, that family members have, and confirmed my prior thoughts about these.” Kaelble’s ISR officer testified that Kaelble seemed to do everything right. But appearances were deceiving. Despite his successful performance in the psychoeducational program and on ISR, Kaelble was using pain killers, alcohol, and methamphetamine. He was also sexually reoffending. This time, the victim was his own biological daughter, K.K.
At the commitment trial, K.K. testified that Kaelble began abusing her shortly after he was released from prison for his offense against P.L. K.K. was 11 years old at the time. K.K. reported that the abuse would occur when she visited Kaelble at his apartment on weekends. The first time Kaelble sexually assaulted K.K., she was asleep in his bed; Kaelble inserted his fingers into her vagina. K.K. told police that the next time she visited Kaelble, he inserted his penis into her vagina. Kaelble did this every weekend that K.K. went to his apartment. K.K. testified that Kaelble eventually began giving her drugs before he sexually assaulted her. Kaelble told K.K. he was giving her ecstasy, but it was actually methamphetamine. K.K. testified that the drugs “made everything seem ok for a little bit.” She further testified that Kaelble extinguished a cigarette on her right breast, leaving a permanent scar. She stated that she was so high on methamphetamine that she did not care. K.K. testified that on another occasion she had given herself a “party dot,” a small dot tattooed on her hand. She stated that Kaelble was furious about the tattoo and hit her in the face. He then took a pencil, pulled out the eraser, and used the metal edge to dig out the tattoo with bleach and salt. She showed the district court the scar that remained on her hand.
K.K. eventually reported the abuse. Kaelble was charged and pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was sentenced to a 244-month prison term, a double upward durational departure, with a ten-year conditional release period. This court reduced his sentence to 240 months. State v. Kaelble, No. C9-02-684, (Minn. App. Nov. 26, 2002), review denied (Minn. Jan. 29, 2003). During his incarceration, Kaelble was actively involved in Alcoholics Anonymous and completed a number of psychoeducational classes which provided “information and the opportunity for participants to develop and demonstrate new skills related to the treatment issues identified on their individual treatment plans.” Kaelble completed classes regarding cognitive restructuring, sexual-assault dynamics, emotions management, morals and values, reoffense prevention, transitions, victim empathy, personal victimization, sexual behavior, and alcohol and drug education.
Kaelble also participated in the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) at Lino Lakes. There are four tracks in the SOTP. The first track is the assessment phase, which includes psychological testing, interviews, review of the offender’s records, and evaluation of the individual offender’s needs. Roberta Singerhouse, a corrections-program therapist at Lino Lakes, identified a number of areas Kaelble needed to address in treatment, including chemical dependency issues; admission of his offense behavior; acceptance of responsibility for his behavior; sexual interests, attitudes and behaviors; offense dynamics; reoffense prevention; criminal behavior and attitudes; and sexual attitudes. Kaelble completed the assessment phase and advanced to Track 2.
Track 2 is intensive chemical-dependency treatment. Kaelble completed his Track 2 treatment goals. He also developed and implemented an emotional-management plan, participated in an additional emotional-management class, and aligned a network of support people. Kaelble began Track 3, the long-term sex-offender-therapy component of the SOTP, in January 2008 and completed it in March 2009. Kaelble then advanced to Track 4, which is the transitional-programming component of the program. He was unable to complete this component due to his July release date, but he continued to participate in the track until that time.
Prior to Kaelble’s release from prison, the state petitioned for his commitment as an SPP and SDP. The district court held a trial on the petition on August 4 through August 7, 2009, at which it heard the testimony of 19 witnesses and received 31 exhibits. A summary of the evidence follows.
Harry M. Hoberman, Ph.D., L.P., is a duly qualified forensic psychologist. Dr. Hoberman conducted an independent forensic psychological examination and prepared an initial report regarding Kaelble. Dr. Hoberman reviewed Kaelble’s records from his DOC file, including the records of various Minnesota correctional facilities and SOTP. Dr. Hoberman also reviewed reports from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and district court, the St. Paul Police Department, and the Ramsey County district court. Dr. Hoberman did not meet with Kaelble in person. Dr. Hoberman testified that Kaelble meets the statutory requirements for commitment as an SPP and SDP.
Peter Meyers, Psy.D., L.P., is a duly qualified forensic psychologist. Dr. Meyers testified that he has reviewed approximately 150 SPP/SDP cases in approximately 24 Minnesota counties. Dr. Meyers reviewed Kaelble’s records and interviewed him. Dr. Meyers testified that Kaelble meets the statutory requirements for commitment as an SPP and SDP.
Paul Reitman, Ph.D., L.P., is also a duly qualified forensic psychologist, who was appointed as the second examiner by the district court at Kaelble’s request. Dr. Reitman reviewed Kaelble’s records and interviewed him. Dr. Reitman testified that Kaelble meets the statutory requirements for commitment as an SDP but not as an SPP.
Roberta Singerhouse, Kaelble’s therapist at SOTP, testified that she is familiar with Kaelble’s treatment history and that she had observed changes in Kaelble during his time in treatment. She testified that Kaelble became a peer mentor, challenged himself, and was open to feedback. Singerhouse also testified that while Kaelble needs further treatment, she disagrees with Drs. Hoberman, Reitman, and Meyers that he should be committed as an SPP or an SDP. Katherine Wheeler, the Lino Lakes Corrections Program Director, testified that Kaelble needs continued sex-offender treatment, but that an out-patient treatment program such as Alpha House would be appropriate.
The district court also received evidence of Kaelble’s scores on actuarial measures and assessments used to predict recidivism. The Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised-II (Hare) is an actuarial tool used to assess psychopathy in male forensic and prison populations. The Hare total score is a strong predictor of general, sexual, and violent recidivism in prison and forensic psychiatric populations. Psychopathic offenders have been found to be three to four times more likely to violently reoffend following release from custody than non-psychopathic offenders. A score of 30 or above denotes categorical psychopathy. Drs. Meyers and Hoberman scored Kaelble at 30, thus placing him in the clinical psychopath range. Dr. Reitman scored Kaelble at 22 to 23, but he testified that he tended to give Kaelble the benefit of the doubt when scoring him.
The Sexual Violence Risk-20 (SVR-20) is an assessment tool used to provide information that distinguishes the relative risk of sex offenders for sexual recidivism from more general forms of recidivism. This instrument is not used as an actuarial instrument but has been shown to provide valid predictions of sexual recidivism. Dr. Meyers scored Kaelble at 15, which places him in the “high risk” category for further sexual violence.
The Static-99 is an actuarial instrument designed to estimate the probability of sexual and violent recidivism among adult males who have already been convicted of at least one sexual offense against a child or non-consenting adult. Dr. Hoberman scored Kaelble at a seven, which places him within the “high risk” category for sexual recidivism, and yields a reoffending rate of 45% over ten years and 52% over fifteen years. Dr. Meyers scored Kaelble at a five on the Static-99, which places him within the “medium-high risk” category for sexual recidivism and yields a reoffending rate of 33% over five years, 38% over ten years, and 40% over fifteen years. Dr. Reitman also scored Kaelble at five.
In its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order for Commitment, the district court concluded that Kaelble meets the statutory criteria for commitment as an SPP and SDP. The district court committed Kaelble to the custody of the Commissioner of Human Services at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) for an evaluation, pending a final review hearing. The district court held the review hearing and issued its order indeterminately committing Kaelble to MSOP at St. Peter and Moose Lake as an SPP and SDP.

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