Campus groper to receive mental competency evaluation

Before Phillip Acosta goes to trial for nine counts of criminal sexual conduct, his mental competency will be tested.

Phillip Acosta, the man facing nine counts of criminal sexual conduct for groping women across the University of Minnesota campus, will be held on $42,000 bail and participate in a mental competency evaluation before a potential trial proceeds, Hennepin County District Judge Allen Oleisky decided at a pretrial omnibus hearing Friday afternoon. The evaluation will determine if he has a rational and factual understanding of his charges and will assess AcostaâÄôs ability to consult rationally with attorney to aid in his own defense. The evaluation was AcostaâÄôs right and was executed by Paula Brummel, his court appointed attorney. Acosta has been held in Hennepin County jail since Feb. 3. Acosta had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia, his family said. It is unknown whether Brummel will be able to raise this issue in his defense, because statements made by Acosta to police negate mental illness plea requirements, University law professor Steve Simon said. In order to plead mental illness, Acosta must show that he either didnâÄôt know the nature of his act or mental illness caused him to act in self-defense. Since Acosta expressed to police âÄúsome infatuation with female buttocks,âÄù it is likely that his attorney will be unable to make the claims, Simon said. Joyce Acosta, PhillipâÄôs sister, said she hopes her brotherâÄôs trial will result in mandatory psychological treatment. âÄúWe worked with several mental illness groups, and they told us that unless Phil was a menace to society, there was no dramatic treatment possible,âÄù Joyce Acosta said. âÄúWe hope that this will result in help.âÄù Hennepin County District Judge Robert Small will be AcostaâÄôs trial judge, and Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Judith Hawley will represent the state of Minnesota as the prosecuting attorney.