LOS ANGELES – A judge on Friday ordered that a serial rapist be released to live in a Los Angeles County community in spite of a host of vocal protests.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Gilbert Brown issued a brief order saying that Christopher Evans Hubbart, 63, must be released by July 7, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. With several severe restrictions that include 24-hour GPS monitoring, Hubbart will be allowed to rent a small house in a remote area in Lake Los Angeles, near the city of Palmdale.
The decision comes two days after a daylong hearing in Northern California, where Brown heard passionate objections from residents, many of whom drove 350 miles north from Southern California.
Hubbart has acknowledged raping and assaulting about 40 women between 1971 and 1982. Authorities place the number of victims closer to 100.
Hubbart's most recent crimes occurred in Santa Clara County, but Brown ordered him released to Los Angeles County, where Hubbart was born and raised.
When Hubbart's prison term ended in 1996, he was deemed a sexually violent predator and confined to a state mental hospital. Doctors at the hospital recently concluded he was fit for release, but few options were available. California laws bar sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and other places where children congregate, eliminating nearly all urban areas in the state.
Palmdale Mayor James Ledford said he was "a little upset" on learning the news.
"It's very disappointing, very disappointing that this guy with this kind of record in the past would be put into any community," he said.
Ledford said the city is going to continue to try to fight the order.
"We can't hold that judge accountable from the Antelope Valley. We're just a place he dumps," Ledford said. "We have to find some options to protect our community. We don't think the judicial system is doing it."
Cheryl Holbrook, who is a member of the Ladies of Lake LA, a community group created to fight Hubbart's release to their community, said she and others in the group were headed out to Hubbart's new address Friday afternoon to protest.
Holbrook, who lives about 5 miles away from Hubbart's proposed home, said she was shaking because of the news, which she said was made worse by terrible memories of being raped as a 14-year-old by two men at knifepoint and impregnated.
She had traveled up north to speak before the judge and was dismayed by the decision.
"I think it's wrong," Holbrook said. "When this guy commits another crime, the blood's going to be on that judge's shoulders. He ought to be held accountable for what he is doing."