This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).







In the Matter of:
Matthew Charles Manahl.



Filed May 30, 2000

Klaphake, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. P7-98-60464


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Peter J. Stiehm, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Ctr., Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent county)


Raymond A. Wood, 1919 University Ave., Suite One Sixteen, St. Paul, MN  55104 (for appellant Manahl)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Foley, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Matthew Charles Manahl challenges his commitment as a sexual psychopathic personality (SPP) and as a sexually dangerous person (SDP) under Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subds. 18b, 18c (1998).  Because clear and convincing evidence was presented to show that appellant has engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct and that he has “an utter lack of power to control his sexual impulses,” we affirm.



            A “sexually dangerous person” is one who:

            (1)  has engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct as defined in subdivision 7a;

            (2)  has manifested a sexual, personality, or other mental disorder or dysfunction; and

            (3)  as a result, is likely to engage in acts of harmful sexual conduct as defined in subdivision 7a.


Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18c.  Appellant challenges the trial court’s conclusion that he engaged in a course of harmful sexual conduct.  See Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 7a(a) (1998) (defining “harmful sexual conduct” as “sexual conduct that creates a substantial likelihood of serious physical or emotional harm to another”).

            Appellant insists that he is a nonviolent pedophile who used only “grooming techniques” and persistent coercive behavior, rather than a weapon to gain compliance with his victims.  Appellant relies on In re Rickmyer, 519 N.W.2d 188, 190 (Minn. 1994), in which the supreme court reversed the commitment of a nonviolent pedophile under the former psychopathic personality statute, concluding that the pedophile’s “unauthorized sexual ‘touchings’ and ‘spankings,’ while repellent, do not constitute the kind of injury, pain, ‘or other evil’ that is contemplated by the psychopathic personality statute.”

            Rickmyer acknowledges, however, that “[t]here may be instances where a pedophile’s pattern of sexual misconduct is of such an egregious nature that there is a substantial likelihood of serious physical or mental harm being inflicted on the victims.”  Id., 519 N.W.2d at 190. 

            We conclude that this is one of those cases.  While the facts of Rickmyer showed only unauthorized “spankings” or “touchings,” appellant’s sexual misconduct over the past ten years has included the use of physical force and both anal and vaginal penetration.  Further, under the act, appellant is presumed to have engaged in “harmful sexual conduct” because he has committed and been convicted several times of criminal sexual conduct.  See Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 7a(b) (1998) (rebuttable presumption of harmful sexual conduct created when individual has committed serious criminal sexual conduct). 

            In addition, there is substantial evidence of actual harm.  Each of appellant’s victims has experienced ongoing emotional problems that range from fear to school problems.  And both court-appointed experts testified that any sexual activity with children, particularly when that activity involves anal penetration, is physically and emotionally harmful.  As required by the statute, this evidence clearly and convincingly establishes that appellant has engaged and is likely to engage in a course of harmful sexual conduct.  See Minn. Stat. § 253B.185, subd. 1 (1998); see also In re Peterson, 356 N.W.2d 746, 748 (Minn. App. 1984) (appellate review of commitment decision limited to determining whether trial court complied with commitment act and made required findings).


            “Sexual psychopathic personality” is defined as

the existence in any person of such conditions of emotional instability, or impulsiveness of behavior, or lack of customary standards of good judgment, or failure to appreciate the consequences of personal acts, or a combination of any of these conditions, which render the person irresponsible for personal conduct with respect to sexual matters, if the person has evidence, by a habitual course of misconduct in sexual matters, an utter lack of power to control the person’s sexual impulses and, as a result, is dangerous to other persons.


Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 18b.  Appellant argues that the evidence fails to show that he has an utter lack of power to control his sexual impulses.

            Appellant argues that due to his limited intellectual functioning, he believed that he was engaging in consensual sexual contact, and that he has now learned that some victims were incapable of giving consent due to their youth or intoxicated states.  Appellant further argues that his conduct was such that he more than likely chose not to control his behavior, rather than exhibiting an impulsive lack of control, because he did not believe he had a problem.

            Both court-appointed examiners concluded that appellant is unable to control his sexual impulses and has demonstrated impulsiveness in his sexual behavior.  Their testimony, and the trial court’s findings and conclusions, cover all of the factors identified by the supreme court that “bear on the predatory sex impulse and the lack of power to control it.”  In re Blodgett, 510 N.W.2d 910, 915 (Minn. 1994).  Examination of those factors show:

            (1)       Appellant has an extensive history involving five criminal sexual conduct offenses and at least four similar offenses that were not charged.  He has perpetrated against both males and females, generally younger than himself, and has offended in front of witnesses.  His offense history began at an early age and has continued for approximately ten years, with the only interruptions occurring during his periods of incarceration.

            (2)       Appellant has used force and coercion to accomplish his sexual assaults, which have included anal and vaginal intercourse with children as young as six.

            (3)       Appellant is not a stranger to his victims, who have included his sister and other children who have known him.

            (4)       Appellant described some of his assaults as consensual, and his behavior demonstrates that he simply takes what he wants.

            (5)       Although the court-appointed experts described appellant’s medical and family history as unremarkable, the evidence established that he was abused by older babysitters at a young age and that one of his first victims was his younger sister.

            (6)       The results of appellant’s testing and evaluations revealed an entrenched personality disorder and ongoing difficulties with authority, impulsivity, and anger management.  Appellant’s scores on several test designed to evaluate the likelihood to reoffend were high.

            The evidence further shows that appellant has twice reoffended after completing treatment and within months of being released.  See In re Pirkl, 531 N.W.2d 902 (Minn. App. 1995) (discrediting person’s claims that he had benefited from treatment, where person had made identical statements in prior treatment programs and then sexually assaulted two women), review denied (Minn.  May 30, 1995).  He has engaged in grooming and coercive behaviors with sexual misconduct as his clear goal.  See In re Bieganowski, 520 N.W.2d 525, 530 (Minn. App. 1994) (lack of control shown when person’s predatory conduct habitual and when person continues to place himself in situations that provide opportunity for similar offenses), review denied (Minn. Oct. 27, 1994).  Finally, appellant has never exhibited a period of real control over his behavior and continues to deny responsibility for some of his offenses.  See In re Irwin, 529 N.W.2d 366 (Minn. App. 1995) (utter lack of control may be inferred from person’s lack of insight regarding sexual misconduct), review denied (Minn. May 16, 1995).  Thus, the evidence clearly and convincingly supports the trial court’s conclusion that appellant has an utter lack of power to control his sexual impulses.  See Minn. Stat. § 253B.185, subd. 1.