A man who spent nearly 20 years in prison for sexually abusing boys at Mooseheart near Batavia is seeking to have prison letters banned from a future trial to decide if he should be held under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act until he's no longer a danger.
Chad Wahl's defense attorney argues the letters are "sexual fantasies" about boys and not specific plans, which is one of the conditions that would allow prison officials to seize the outgoing letters, copy them and use them against Wahl.
"The letters allegedly written by Mr. Wahl contain what can best be described as 'sexual fantasies.' Those letters did not contain 'threats of physical harm against any person or threats of criminal activity.' Mr. Wahl was sharing fantasies with another male," defense attorney Nate Nieman wrote in a court motion.
Wahl, 48, has been at Rushville Treatment Center since November 2013 after a judge ruled there was probable cause to have him held by the Department of Human Services after his prison release.
The state attorney general's office filed a motion under the act to have Wahl held until he is no longer deemed a danger to society. The attorney general must prove Wahl was convicted of a violent sexual assault and has a mental illness, and a jury must rule he is "substantially probable" to reoffend.
Wahl, formerly of Pekin, was arrested in March 1992, convicted in early 1994 and sentenced to 21 years in prison for sexually assaulting and abusing six boys at the school.
Wahl worked as a "house parent" at the school and started a "reward program" to allow boys to sleep on the living room floor on weekends to watch movies. Most of the abuse took place during the reward periods, prosecutors argued. The victims were 9 to 13 years old.
Prison officials may confiscate mail containing contraband and may spot read outgoing mail, but it can only be seized and copied if it satisfies one of nine criteria, such as threatening physical harm, blackmail, extortion or plans for escape or other crimes.
"There was discussion in these letters about potentially engaging in sexual acts with underage boys, but, again, these were fantasies and not concrete plans. The letters were not written in code," Nieman argued in court documents.
The matter is next due in court July 13.