Psychiatric detention of man obsessed with young girl affirmed by B.C. court

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      Christopher Michael Staetter is mentally ill.

      He is obsessed with someone, who was a teenage girl in 2005.

      Staetter believes she had his baby, although the two of them did not have a relationship.

      Despite psychiatric treatment, Staetter’s delusions about the person continue unabated.

      For this reason, he needs to remain in care at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) in Coquitlam.

      In a July 24, 2019 decision, the B.C. Review Board ordered his detention after finding that he poses a significant threat to public safety.

      The board is a tribunal that has jurisdiction over people who have been found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial for a crime because of mental disorder.

      Staetter questioned the board’s decision before the B.C. Court of Appeal, claiming his rights are being violated.

      In oral reasons for judgment by Justice Susan Griffin, the court dismissed the appeal.

      “I am of the view that the Board considered all relevant evidence and was reasonable in coming to the conclusion it did,” Griffin said.

      Griffin recalled that Staetter’s initial detention resulted from a verdict holding him not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD) on October 19, 2012.

      He had been charged with two counts of criminal harassment and two counts of uttering threats.

      “The index offences arose out of an obsession Mr. Staetter developed with a teenage girl, P.H.,” Griffin recounted.

      Staetter “came to believe that she had his baby, even though she did not have a baby and they did not have a sexually intimate relationship”.

      “He began to harass her and her father, B.H. He sent them repeated voicemail and text messages. The messages were very disturbing,” Griffin said.

      Staetter was 16 years old when his mental illness was first noted in 2004.

      “His diagnosis was complicated by chronic substance abuse,” according to Griffin.

      Staetter suffers from schizophrenia.

      “His illness has manifested itself by grandiose delusional beliefs,” Griffin said. “He believes he can teleport himself and objects (typically drugs or guns), and has believed himself to be a robot and God.”

      He was permitted to stay in Victoria in April 2019, where he worked as a dishwasher.

      “He also had to be taken to the emergency room at the hospital twice for suspected substance abuse,” Griffin said about his time in Victoria. “The second time it was thought that he had suffered an overdose. He was revived by the administration of Narcan.”

      After this incident, he was arrested and brought back to FPH.

      In coming up with its decision, the B.C. Review Board reviewed medical evidence by Staetter’s treatment team.

      A doctor provided a written opinion to the board stating that Staetter continues to harbour delusional beliefs about the female.

      Moreover, the intensity of these beliefs has not abated.

      “Without a legal order prohibiting contact with the victim, such as the Review Board order, it is certain that he would re‑initiate contact,” the board summarized the doctor’s evidence.

      The board also noted from the medical evidence that there had been previous instances where Staetter “carried a knife while acutely psychotic”.

      According to Griffin, many of Staetter’s messages to the girl and her father were recorded and transcribed.

      “They provide clear evidence of the extremely serious nature of his harassment, threats, delusions and disordered thinking,” Griffin said.

      Justices Anne MacKenzie and Sunni Stromberg-Stein agreed with Griffin’s judgment dismissing the appeal.