Judge issues ruling for Morgan Geyser in Slender Man hearing

Posted at 7:05 PM, April 11, 2024

WAUEKSHA, Wis. (Court TV) — A Wisconsin judge said clear and convincing evidence exists to believe “Slender Man” attacker Morgan Geyser still poses a threat to the community and denied her request to be released from a mental health facility.

The judge offered an analysis of the evidence before issuing his ruling, emphasizing that Morgan Geyser's credibility was an issue.

The judge offered an analysis of the evidence before issuing his ruling, emphasizing that Morgan Geyser’s credibility was an issue. (Court TV)

Judge Michael Bohren said Geyser’s credibility was undermined by her recent claims that she faked psychotic symptoms that were the basis for her commitment to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute nearly a decade ago. Bohren said Geyser’s efforts to disavow her diagnosis called into question her claim that she stabbed her friend 19 times in 2014 to appease a fictional character named Slender Man. The change in her account factors into her risk assessment, Bohren said, suggesting she may be an unreliable reporter to the treatment team she’ll be accountable to upon release.

“The credibility of the reporter is paramount because it sets the factual basis for what occurs,” Bohren said. “At this point, the Court is convinced the scales tip in favor of the public.”

Bohren issued his decision after hearing from three court-appointed mental health professionals who offered varying opinions on Geyser’s readiness for release. A fourth witness, the medical director of Winnebago, endorsed Geyser’s release, saying there was nothing more the institution could do for her and what she needed most was socialization beyond its walls.

Two court-appointed psychologists for the state said Geyser had progressed over the years but still posed a threat to the community, based in part on her claims of feigning symptoms. Both experts said it was unlikely Geyser was malingering based on the volume of evidence of psychosis collected over the years at Winnebago. But both experts agreed that it could undermine her credibility when it came to relying on her for updates on her mental health, which will be a key part of her treatment plan upon release.

Morgan Geyser sits in court. (Court TV)

Morgan Geyser sits in court. (Court TV)

One of those experts, Dr. Deborah Collins – who was retained by the defense within days of the offense in 2014 and has examined her more than a dozen times since — said Geyser could be ready for release within a year if she continues to comply with treatment and medication regimen.

Dr. Brooke Lundbohm said Geyser displayed a pattern of resistance to certain medical and therapeutic treatments that she felt no longer served her or contributed to her “label” of psychotic disorders. Lundbohm said her attitude raised concerns about her willingness to comply with similar interventions in the community.

Under questioning from Geyser’s lawyers, Lundbohm agreed she was forthcoming in describing symptoms she’s currently experiencing, but she raised questions about Geyser’s motivations for doing so.

“There’s no evidence to suggest she hides symptoms. However, she is very motivated for conditional release. She’s in tune with the concerns raised over time and there’s some indication of wanting to change diagnosis and the labels that have been applied out of her belief that it may assist her in her long-term goals,” Lundbohm said.

Dr Kayla Pope, the medical director of Winnebago, said there was nothing more the facility could for Geyser’s overall development or to mitigate her risk to the community. Geyser was at an age where it was “critical” for her to have opportunities for socialization outside an institutional setting, Pope said. She had attained the highest level of privileges at the institution, Pope said, which included opportunities for supervised visits to the community, but staffing limitations prevented Geyser from leaving the facility.

WATCH: Slender Man Stabber Says She Faked Psychotic Symptoms

“The critical period for development is closing,” Pope said. “It’s critical now for her to make the transition to help with ongoing development.”

Pope’s opinion echoed that of court-appointed defense expert Kenneth Robbins, who has also been evaluating Geyser since 2014.

“She has improved quite dramatically and needs things the institution can no longer offer,” Robbins said Thursday. “There’s no suggestion she’s dangerous and the kinds of things she needs – help with socialization, education, being independent – are things Winnebago can no longer provide in an appropriate way.”

Robbins and the other experts said Geyser stopped showing active signs of psychosis after her treatment providers discontinued her use of antipsychotic medications. Her current diagnoses include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders and borderline personality traits.

Collins and Lundbohm said Geyser claimed to have faked her psychotic symptoms to avoid being released to the care of her sexually abusive father, who is now dead. Geyser never claimed to have made up Slender Man, Collins said, but she tried to frame him as the “fanciful beliefs of a 12-year-old from an abusive family” instead of psychosis.

The account marks the first time she has claimed she was sexually abused, which prosecutors said raised questions about its credibility and Geyser’s overall credibility.

“Why is she saying that now? We don’t have a clear answer on that,” Assistant District Attorney  said in the state’s closing argument.

“We don’t have a clear answer on why she committed the offense… She thought Slender Man would harm her and her family and she had to appease him. Now we’re getting a different story – she believed in Slender Man but she wanted a way out of her family situation. So the motivation here isn’t even clear.”

Ultimately, it seemed the judge agreed with the prosecutor, saying the change in her story affected Geyser’s diagnosis and risk assessment.

“What’s happened is the focus of the case from the defense standpoint has changed. It’s centered on sexual abuse as the catalysts for the attempted murder of the victim,” Bohren said. “It creates a credibility issue.”