from the Fayette Circuit Court, No. 21C01-1209-JD-257 The
Honorable Beth A. Butsch, Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
Attorney for Appellant Kimberly A. Jackson Indianapolis,
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Christina D. Pace Deputy Attorney General
was adjudicated a delinquent for committing acts which, if
committed by an adult, would constitute Class C felony child
molestation, and was subsequently ordered to register as a
sex offender. J.D.M. appeals, claiming that the statutory
prerequisites for placing a juvenile on the sex offender
registry were not met. We agree, and reverse.
and Procedural History
was born in 1996, and "has experience[d] a lot of trauma
in his life." Appellant's App. at 214. During his
early childhood, at the age of five or six, J.D.M. stated
that he was "sexually abused by two adult
strangers." Appellant's App. at 69. His younger
brother also died around this time. This coincided with
J.D.M. becoming defiant with authority, attempting to run
away from home, and even attempting suicide. J.D.M.'s
mother and father divorced shortly thereafter, and J.D.M.
moved with his mother to live near his cousin, whom he
identifies as his aunt. During this period J.D.M. also
received intermittent treatment for his behavioral issues,
with some success. His mother was obese, causing her numerous
health problems requiring hospitalization, during which times
J.D.M.'s cousin or father would care for him, and he
would have to move to their homes. J.D.M.'s mother passed
away when he was thirteen due to heart complications. J.D.M.
was on probation at the time,  and violated it shortly after he got the
news, resulting in a six-month hospital stay. After his
release, J.D.M. went to live with his cousin in Texas, before
moving back to live with his father in May 2011.
the course of the next year, J.D.M.'s condition rapidly
deteriorated. He gained approximately 200 pounds, with the
goal of obtaining the same weight as his mother before she
died. He continued to engage in aggressive and defiant
behaviors such as theft and arson, though he was not
adjudicated for these offenses. He also developed enuretic
and encopretic conditionswith no discernible cause, resulting in his
being expelled from high school and being taught privately at
the local library. During this time he continued in therapy,
and was "diagnosed with ADHD, Oppositional Defiant
Disorder and Bipolar II disorder." Appellant's App.
September 19, 2012, J.D.M., now age fifteen, was in his
bedroom with a nine-year-old boy, who was the son of
J.D.M.'s older brother's girlfriend. J.D.M.
instructed the boy to remove his pants, and J.D.M. did the
same. J.D.M. had the boy lie on top of him, and stated that
both boys had erections. J.D.M.'s older brother found
them, called for his father, and they called the police.
was charged with being a delinquent child for committing
child molestation which, if committed by an adult, would
constitute a Class C felony. At the detention hearing,
J.D.M.'s father told the juvenile court that he did not
want J.D.M. to come home because he was "more or less
disgusted with him the way he's been." Tr. at 13.
The juvenile court ordered placement of J.D.M. at the Wernle
Youth and Family Treatment Center, and for Wernle to perform
a comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation of J.D.M. On October
11, 2012, Wernle reported that J.D.M. "appear[ed] to be
suffering from traumatic grief, " and determined that he
"present[ed] a high risk to sexually re-offend, without
proper treatment interventions." Appellant's App. at
68, 73. On November 2, 2012, Lisa Day of the Fayette
Probation Department filed her Pre-Disposition Report
("PDR"), which reviewed Wernle's Diagnostic
Evaluation, and "request[ed] that youth be placed into
the Sexually Maladaptive Program at the Wernle Youth and
Family Treatment Center." Appellant's App. at 92.
The PDR did not contain a recommendation that J.D.M. be
placed on probation.
subsequently admitted to the allegations, and was adjudicated
a delinquent. The juvenile court continued his placement at
Wernle pending a formal dispositional hearing, which took
place on January 16, 2013. At that hearing, both sides agreed
that his continued treatment at Wernle was the best course,
and then moved on to the issue of probation. The trial court
initially suggested that he be formally placed on probation
at that time; Officer Day suggested otherwise: "My
thoughts are um, as far as placing J. I guess on formal
probation my thoughts are that we order him into Wernle to
complete his treatment once he has completed treatment we
come back and at that time place him on formal probation
using the sex offender guidelines." Tr. at 26 (emphasis
added). Both the State and J.D.M.'s counsel agreed with
this approach, and the juvenile court consented, stating
"we'll continue the placement at Wernle and we will
address um, the conditions of probation and all that when
you're ready to be released from Wernle." Tr. at 28.
The accompanying dispositional order "approve[d] of the
probation officer's recommendation in the PDR" and
continued placement at Wernle, without a formal entry
that J.D.M. was on probation. Appellant's App. at
109. The order did state, however, that the Fayette County
Probation Department would have "responsibility for the
placement and care of the child, " and would be required
to "file a report every three months after the date of
this order on the progress made on implementing the
decree." Appellant's App. at 110. The court also
notified J.D.M.'s school of the adjudication, and left
blank the portion describing his "sentence or juvenile
law disposition." Appellant's App. at 112.
at Wernle, J.D.M. began his treatment for sexually
maladaptive behavior. During this period J.D.M.'s father
died, resulting in guardianship passing to his cousin. At
subsequent review hearings on June 19, 2013, October 16,
2013, and January 15, 2014, Officer Day and Wernle both
reported J.D.M. continued to make "minimal to moderate
progress" in his treatment areas, and recommended his
placement at Wernle continue. Appellant's App. at 120-24,
130, 133, 142. The trial court agreed each time, noting that
"no change is made in the dispositional decree"
originally entered January of 2013. Appellant's App. at
128, 144. The juvenile court ordered a permanency plan which
found that J.D.M. was "progressing well in said
placement, " with the goal that J.D.M. return to his
cousin's home upon completion of treatment.
Appellant's App. at 136- 37.
14, 2014, Officer Day again reported that J.D.M, now age
seventeen, was making "minimal to moderate
progress" in treatment. Appellant's App. at 145.
However, this report also revealed that J.D.M. had suffered
even more personal setbacks. First, his cousin had moved back
to Texas, resulting in "limited contact."
Appellant's App. at 145; Tr. at 43. Second, J.D.M.
revealed in therapy that he had been sexually abused by his
father and his older brother; this report eventually led to
his brother's ...