Health & Human Services

Ex-N.Y. Gov. Pataki to Testify in Case over Sex Offenders' Involuntary Transfer to Psych Wards

The lawsuit accuses the state of abusing its authority eight years ago by transferring the plaintiffs to psychiatric facilities at the end of their prison terms — in effect, summarily extending their sentences without recourse. None of the plaintiffs are still in mental health institutions.
July 23, 2013
 

The convicted rapist formerly known as Louis Massei wore pink clam diggers and shoulder-length hair parted on the side for a star turn on the witness stand last week in a Manhattan courtroom.

The transgender witness, who now goes by the name Lisa, was there to describe what it was like to be involuntarily placed in a psychiatric facility for mentally ill offenders.

"My roommate was a person who fed his girlfriend to homeless people," Massei told the jury. "You can't run, you can't fight. Someone has decided this is where you belong."

Massei, 52, is among six ex-cons who have sued former Gov. George Pataki and other state officials for tens of millions of dollars. The lawsuit accuses the state of abusing its authority eight years ago by transferring the plaintiffs to psychiatric facilities at the end of their prison terms — in effect, summarily extending their sentences without recourse. None of the plaintiffs are still in mental health institutions.

Pataki is expected to testify early this week at a civil trial that's a study in society's struggle to protect the public from violent predators while preserving the legal rights of those same offenders. Abbe Lowell, Pataki's lawyer, said in opening statements that Pataki knew in 2005 that 16 other states had addressed the problem of sexually violent predators being released after their prison terms by involuntary civil commitments to psychiatric institutions.

About 20 states now allow certain sex offenders to be detained at psychiatric facilities after their sentences are served if they have a mental disorder that would make them more likely to offend again. For several years, Pataki had tried to get state legislators to address the issue unsuccessfully.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from Health & Human Services