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Woman Can't Be Held Indefinitely, Court Says

March 05, 2003|From Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — A Missouri appeals court Tuesday overturned an order keeping a woman committed indefinitely as a violent sexual predator, ruling there is little evidence proving women convicted of sex crimes are likely to become repeat offenders.

The state pledged to appeal the ruling by the three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals, which decided that claims that Angela Coffel probably would become a repeat offender were "based on private, subjective and untested theories."

Coffel, 26, is the only woman in Missouri being held indefinitely as a violent sexual predator. She pleaded guilty in 1996 to two sodomy counts involving two brothers, ages 14 and 11.

Coffel served a five-year sentence, but before she could be released from prison the state petitioned the judge to keep her in custody. A judge agreed in 2001 to confine her indefinitely at a state mental health facility.

Coffel will remain at a mental hospital pending appeals, a state Department of Mental Health spokeswoman said.

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