Shawn Sullivan, an American who holds dual citizenship in the US and Ireland, has been spared extradition back to the United States where he would face trial for his crimes of pedophilia. Sullivan has several convictions of sexual assault against children that have landed him on InterPol’s most wanted list, with the two most recent being in Ireland.
The Telegraph reports that the 43 year old will not be forced to return to the United States to face trial for his crimes on the grounds that the likely sentence would be a denial of his human rights. Should he return to face trial in the US, Sullivan would probably spend the rest of his life in custody as part of a “controversial” sex-offenders treatment program in Minnesota.
A spokesman for the US Embassy said: “We strongly disagree with the decision of the court that he should not be extradited to face trial in the U.S.”
“Civil commitment is not a penal or criminal sanction; it is rather a means by which the State can protect the community from dangerous behaviour that the committed individual is unable to control.”
Civil commitment in the US means that the accused can be jailed indefinitely for as long as they’re considered a threat to society.
Sullivan, originally from Fort Benning, Georgia, was accused of raping a 14 year-old girl and sexually molesting two 11 year-olds in Minnesota between 1993 and 1994.
When charges were filed against him for his crimes in the US, he fled to Ireland, where he holds dual citizenship. There, he assaulted two more young Irish girls, leading to his suspended sentence in 1997. He then fled to London using his Irish passport that had his name spelled in Gaelic.
Sullivan was located and arrested in Barnes, southwest London in June of 2010. He was living with Sarah Smith, a Ministry of Justice policy manager. Sullivan went on to marry Smith while on remand from Wandsworth Prison, and was later released on bail with an electronic tag.
The Telegraph goes on to report that a UK judge initially agreed to Sullivan’s extradition back to the US and the Home Office dismissed his appeal.
However, Sullivan took his case to the High Court earlier this year, with his lawyers claiming that if he were convicted in the US, he faced being put under a “civil commitment” order at the end of his jail term that effectively meant he would be deemed “sexually dangerous” and never released.
The Associated Press reports that on Thursday, two judges accepted Sullivan's appeal against extradition after U.S. authorities refused to give assurances that Sullivan would not be placed in the controversial sex-offenders treatment program in Minnesota.
The judges believed that placing Sullivan in the Minnesota treatment program, which has yet to release a person from its services since its inception, would be in denial of his human rights.
In a judgment published last week, the UK High Court judges said there was a real risk he would be put on the program in Minnesota, and that it would breach his right not to suffer loss of liberty without due process as protected by the European Court of Human Rights.
"It is clear to me that were an order of civil commitment to be made, it would be a flagrant denial of this appellant's rights under Art. 5.1," Lord Justice Moses said.
In a note released on Thursday, Lord Justice Moses announced that “the United States will not provide an assurance” and so the appeal under the 2003 Extradition Act was allowed.
“The appellant will be discharged from the proceedings,” the judge said.