Forensic psychiatrist certifies that Howard Sipe does not have a “mental disorder”
By Alexander Ramirez, Jake Romero, Darling Gonzalez
OAKLAND, CA – Dr. Christopher Fischer testified in Alameda County Superior Court on Monday in the ongoing Howard Sipe trial involving an alleged parole violation in 2010 and recent overt acts.
The defense brought in Fischer, a forensic psychiatrist who has studied and worked closely with sexual predators, to determine whether Sipe is more likely to commit sexual offenses due to an underlying mental disorder. The 63-year-old accused has a long criminal record, which includes three violent sexual assaults in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I don’t think he has this kind of mental disorder as defined in the law, or actually any mental disorder at all in his life at this point,” Dr. Fischer said.
He also said he did not believe the accused, if released, would risk reoffending in a sexually violent manner. Dr. Fischer based his opinions in part on his review of nearly 7,000 pages of records, interviews with Sipe at Coalinga State Hospital, and consultations with other clinical psychologists.
Defense attorney David Bryden noted that other psychologists diagnosed Sipe with antisocial personality disorder.
According to Fischer, Sipe’s participation in various programs at the hospital such as “Men Sentenced for Rape” and his demonstrations of introspection during interviews are incompatible with this diagnosis. Even though Sipe had previously shown possible signs of antisocial personality disorder, that can also change over time, Fischer explained.
Fischer also ruled out the disorder of sexual sadism as it was incompatible with the nature of Sipe’s offenses.
“… Sipe wouldn’t be a sadistic rapist. He would be an angry rapist because, if there was force and violence in his offenses… no torture… no mutilation… no ritualized violence. They also make a distinction that sadistic rapists often have, there is evidence that they have carefully planned their offenses, not only to accompany the deviant fantasy that drives them, but also to avoid detection. They take a lot of steps to do it. This is certainly not true when you look at the history of Sipe, ”explained Fischer.
Dr Fischer discussed the method by which professionals determine the rate of sexual recidivism of a person who has had incidents before. He said they use what’s called a “Static 99R” and it’s a set of 10 items that each give a certain score that is added up.
Fischer added that there is a loophole in the Static 99R which includes the fact that there is no real way for a score to drop, other than a person’s age. Consistent offenses would mean the score would steadily increase, even though Fischer previously claimed that the qualities of these offenders can change over time and the likelihood of someone committing another offense is actually much lower.
Considering that Sipe’s case is quite old, Fischer argues that it presents less risk than it appears.
During cross-examination, Dr Fischer was questioned by Assistant District Attorney Danielle London on the effectiveness of engagement in the therapy and treatment of sex offenders.
DDA London asked: “Do you agree that one could engage in therapy and treatment but not reap the benefits of that treatment as a general assumption?” “
Dr Fischer replied: “Some, what we call ‘treated sex offenders’ reoffend although the number of those who have not received treatment is much smaller. “
DDA London then listed the sources of information for Sipe’s assessment in Dr Fischer’s report, which included public hospital records. However, London revealed that Dr Fischer had also read police reports on some previous offenses, but they were not listed in his sources of information on his report.
The previous SVP reviews from 2020 were the only sources mentioned in his review of Sipe. An earlier assessment from 2010 was not listed as a source of information in the report.
Dr Fischer eventually admitted that he did not mention a thorough review of the literature and may have “relied on secondary accounts of this incident” in his assessment, and accepted the question of London: “Wouldn’t it be better practice for you, yourself, to review the original documents and not rely on other people’s summaries?” “
London also summarized for Dr Fischer the testimony of two women linked to an offense committed by Sipe in 1980. One of these women was the victim and the other alleged that Sipe confessed to him his involvement in the crime.
“This account of this offense is completely tragic, and it is almost unimaginable that she must have gone through this,” said Dr Fischer. “But the question” Does Sipe have a mental disorder? ” ” is different.”
London then proceeded to describe the extent of the victim’s sexual assault which resulted in internal injuries and led to medical problems lasting to this day.
London asked Dr Fischer: “Does this give you any additional information and facts to consider in your final opinion on this case?” “
Dr Fischer replied: “Yes. “