Offender commitment can proceed without conviction

Posted Wednesday, July 17, 2014 --- 3:27 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court says the state can keep trying to commit a man as a sexually violent offender even though his convictions have been reversed.

Joseph Spaeth was convicted of child enticement in 2009. The state filed a petition to commit him as a sexually violent offender in 2010.

The Supreme Court reversed his convictions in 2012. State attorneys argued commitment proceedings should continue because the petition was valid when they filed it.

The court ruled 4-3 on Wednesday that the proceedings can continue, agreeing the petition was valid when it began. But the court warned the state's position is now weaker.

Spaeth's attorney called the decision terrible for Spaeth but said she doesn't see how it could be applied beyond the unusual circumstances in his case.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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