SAN DIEGO — One of the most chilling episodes in the city's history ended Monday when former San Diego Police Officer Henry Hubbard Jr. was sentenced to 56 years in prison for a series of rapes and robberies that terrorized young beachcombers last summer from La Jolla to Solana Beach.
The 30-year-old man, who before sentencing asked the forgiveness of the court, his victims and their families, said he still did not fully understand after extensive therapy just how ill he had become.
"I am only now beginning to understand the complexity of flaws in my personality that led up to the horrendous acts last summer," he said in a shrill voice interrupted once by his tears. "I have no excuses to give you, as the acts are unexcusable."
Six of Hubbard's victims, including one he shot and one he raped, were among the spectators who packed the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Herbert J. Exarhos. Arthur Gracia, shot by Hubbard hours before the officer's arrest, urged Exarhos to let Hubbard "rot in prison." The rape victim sobbed silently from the front row and did not address the court.
For the first time, Hubbard spoke directly to his victims, turning slightly to face them before returning to his prepared notes.
"To the victims, I am very sorry for the horror, emotional and physical suffering that I brought into your life and the lives of those who know you and care for you," he said. "I realize that you may never be able to forgive me, but I hope and pray that each and every one of you will fully recover from the pain and anguish that I brought into your lives."
For each of eight violent sexual assaults, Hubbard was given six years, or 48 total. He received eight years more for one of the two murder attempts that led to his arrest. The time for all other crimes of his 38-count indictment are to be served concurrently.
With 360 days already served and 180 days credit for good behavior, Hubbard will serve at least another 27 1/2 years in state prison.
Giving Hubbard three years more than the minimum sentence, Exarhos said Hubbard's agreement last month to plead guilty showed a "willingness to spare his victims" from testifying at trial.
Kerry Steigerwalt, Hubbard's attorney, said he was "pleasantly surprised by the sentence, although 56 years is an awfully long time."
Prosecutor Stephen Anear, who called Hubbard a "clever and dangerous predator" who coolly and rationally sought out his victims, said the sentence was fair.
"Mr. Hubbard has made his bed," he said. "Now he has to lie in it."
A Del Mar psychologist portrayed Hubbard as the product of a dysfunctional family in which his father, a respected educator in Lancaster, S. C., drank too much on weekends and beat Hubbard's mother. Often, Hubbard's father openly demanded sex of his wife, the psychologist testified before the sentencing Monday.
Unable to hate his father but humiliated by the experiences and determined to be different, Hubbard withdrew into the shell of a gentle, passive young man who numbed himself from his internal pain by excelling in sports and school, the psychologist said. His father, meanwhile, repeatedly called him a sissy and urged him to be more aggressive.
The rapes grew out of this anger, said clinical psychologist Richard Levak, who interviewed Hubbard in sessions that lasted a total of about 10 hours. Hubbard's penchant for raping women within earshot of their bound male companions was a way of subconsciously striking back at his father and expressing anger at his mother for never escaping from the torment, Levak said.
"In this scene of a man and a woman over which he has power, he is saying: 'I'm getting what I deserve. You see what it's like,' " he said. "It was an angry kind of event that involved getting something that Henry had never been able to suppress. He had been able to numb all his feelings, but not his deep feeling for love and affection."
So out of touch was Hubbard with what he had done that "he actually thought there was some intimacy between him and the women," Levak said.
Hubbard's sentence came five days shy of the anniversary of his arrest, which Police Chief Bob Burgreen called the department's "worst nightmare come true."
The two-month series of seven rapes, plus attempted rapes, robberies and attempted robberies, occurred between June 15 and Aug. 15, 1991. Prosecutors later added to the list an eighth rape that occurred in September, 1990.
In most of the cases, Hubbard searched for couples along the beach, then forced the woman to bind the man's hands with masking tape before he raped the woman.