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In re Care and Treatment of Taft

Supreme Court of South Carolina

July 1, 2015

In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of Christopher Taft, Petitioner

Heard April 9, 2015.

Appeal from Richland County. Alison Renee Lee, Circuit Court Judge. Appellate Case No. 2013-002246.

Appellate Defender LaNelle C. DuRant, of Columbia, for Petitioner.

Attorney General Alan M. Wilson and Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Deborah R.J. Shupe, of Columbia, for Respondent.

JUSTICE HEARN. TOAL, C.J., PLEICONES, BEATTY and KITTREDGE, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 463

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

HEARN, JUSTICE:

In this civil commitment proceeding, Christopher Taft was found to be a sexually violent predator and was committed to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. He now argues the trial court should have granted his motion for directed verdict because the State failed to present sufficient evidence under the Sexually Violent Predators Act (the SVP Act) that he was presently likely to reoffend if not confined. We agree and reverse.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The underlying facts of this case are tragic and disturbing. Taft grew up in a family rife with intergenerational incest. As a young child, he was sexually abused by his aunts, uncles, and a number of older cousins. As Taft went through puberty, he became an abuser himself of his younger siblings.

In June of 2006, at age fifteen, Taft pled guilty to three counts of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, stemming from the sexual assault of his sisters, then five and six, and his nine-year-old brother. Taft was committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for six months, and the family court suspended his sentence upon placement in a sex offender treatment facility and probation after his release. He was

Page 464

admitted to Generations Group Home, a facility for juvenile sex offenders in November 2006. After he was discharged from Generations in June 2007, he was remanded to DJJ until his release in July 2008. Upon his release from DJJ, he was returned ...


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