Child Molester Granted Unconditional Release

A serial child molester who was the first graduate of a California treatment program for violent sexual predators was granted unconditional release Monday, despite disagreement among experts over whether he is ready to be free.

Brian DeVries (search) had been under constant supervision and received outpatient treatment since completing the program at Atascadero State Hospital (search) in August 2003. But Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Robert Baines (search) removed all restrictions except one: DeVries must register as a sex offender wherever he lives.

"Good luck, Mr. DeVries, and for God's sake don't prove me wrong," Baines said.

Outside court, DeVries told reporters, "You have to check and balance your thoughts all the time. ... I'm going to live that way now and in the future."

Before beginning the treatment program in 1997, DeVries, 45, had been in and out of prison and molested at least nine young boys in New Hampshire, Florida and San Jose.

DeVries, who plans to continue treatment, asked for the release so he could move to Washington state; he plans to live with his father and stepmother for a month before moving to trailer on land his father owns.

DeVries' father and stepmother were in court Monday and cried when the decision was announced.

"I think (the judge) made the right decision," DeVries' father, Barry, told reporters outside court. "Now he goes on with his life."

Two experts disagreed about whether DeVries was ready to be released from state custody.

The psychologist who has spent the past year treating DeVries said the serial offender needs more therapy, but a second therapist who spent more than eight hours interviewing and testing DeVries said he is ready for unsupervised release.

"I think we have to allow people to change," Charlene Steen, a psychologist who evaluated DeVries and testified on his behalf, said Monday. "He has clearly changed his behavior ... He's done everything in his power not to reoffend."

DeVries spent a year in a trailer on the grounds of the state prison at Soledad after graduating from Atascadero's treatment program, which began in 1996. He moved to the prison grounds because state officials couldn't find a landlord willing to house him.

Atascadero's treatment program is designed for California's most serious, violent, repeat sex offenders. Those who fit the profile are sent to the mental hospital after serving their prison sentences. They can be recommitted every two years until a judge decides they're no longer a threat to society.

DeVries was voluntarily castrated in August 2001, a surgery he says took away his ability for sexual arousal.