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Serial rapist not a public safety risk, his attorney says

Christopher Hubbart, who could be released in L.A. County, was treated while in a state mental hospital and would be monitored after being freed, his public defender says.

July 10, 2013|By Jack Leonard
  • Christopher Evans Hubbart, a convicted serial rapist who has spent nearly two decades in state mental hospitals, could be released in Los Angeles County.
Christopher Evans Hubbart, a convicted serial rapist who has spent nearly… (KTLA-TV Channel 5 )

A convicted serial rapist who has been ordered released under strict supervision in Los Angeles County embraced intensive treatment for years while locked in a state mental hospital and is not a public safety risk, his attorney said Wednesday.

Christopher Evans Hubbart's request for release was supported by his treating psychologist at Coalinga State Hospital and the hospital's medical director, said Santa Clara County Deputy Public Defender Jeff Dunn.

Dunn said his 62-year-old client will have to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, report his movements and submit to regular lie detector and other tests once he is conditionally freed. Hubbart, he said, would be part of a program that has supervised the release of more than 20 sexually violent predators without any committing new attacks.

"He's agreeing to all of these things and has embraced them as part of his treatment," Dunn said. "I do not believe that he's going to re-offend."

Dunn's comments come amid growing alarm in Los Angeles County over a Santa Clara County judge's decision in May to conditionally release Hubbart, who admitted sexually assaulting dozens of women in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Los Angeles County supervisors expressed concern this week that Hubbart would pose a serious risk to public safety and Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey filed legal paperwork Tuesday in an attempt to have Hubbart released in Santa Clara County instead of Los Angeles.

A Santa Clara County prosecutor said Hubbart will be released once appropriate housing is set up and approved by the judge, a process that could take six months to a year.

Hubbart is among more than 500 offenders in California who have been confined under a law that allows authorities to commit sexually violent predators to state hospitals if they are deemed to have mental disorders that make them likely to re-offend, even if — like Hubbart — they have already served their entire prison sentences. He was one of the first to be committed when the law took effect in 1996.

Hubbart was first arrested in 1972 on suspicion of a string of rapes in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties and admitted raping about 20 women in the area, according to court records. He was released from a state hospital in 1979 when state doctors determined that he no longer posed a threat, a federal appeals court said. After moving to the Bay Area, Hubbart sexually assaulted more than 23 women during the next two years, according to Los Angeles County prosecutors.

In 1996, at the request of the Santa Clara County district attorney's office, Hubbart was declared a "sexually violent predator" and committed to a state hospital for treatment. Rather than attempting a "cure," the treatment focuses on helping patients identify what led them to commit sexual violence and develop and practice responses to reduce the chance of re-offending, according to the California Department of State Hospitals.

A department spokesman said that 23 sexually violent predators have been conditionally released since 2006. Of those, six were returned to state hospital and one was sent to prison.

Hubbart's lawyer said that the conditional release program's record was detailed in court as part of his client's request for release and that the program's director testified that none of the patients were accused of attacking new victims. Some, Dunn said, were returned to a state hospital for minor violations of their release conditions, such as failing to report a contact with a member of the public. Dunn said one was convicted of possessing child pornography, though it was unclear whether the illegal material was acquired before or after his return home from the state hospital.

Hubbart, the lawyer said, completed in-patient treatment for sexually violent predators last year and his years of therapy included continuous tests by psychologists, lie detector tests, and monitoring of his behavior in the hospital and how he treated female staff members. Hubbart's age also makes him less likely to rape again, Dunn said.

The attorney said he hopes authorities in Los Angeles will become involved with the team of officials who will supervise Hubbart's treatment following his release.

"By working collaboratively with them, they'll be doing a better job at protecting the public," Dunn said.

jack.leonard@latimes.com

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