The California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a last-ditch bid to stop the release of a serial rapist to Los Angeles County, clearing the way for Christopher Hubbart to be freed once suitable housing has been found.
The justices rejected without comment Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey's request for a new hearing on whether Hubbart, 62, should be released in Santa Clara County, where he committed his most recent crimes, rather than Los Angeles.
Hubbart, who has spent nearly two decades in a state mental hospital, admitted sexually assaulting more than three dozen women throughout California between 1971 and 1982, according to the district attorney's office.
Lacey, who has called Hubbart "a significant threat to public safety," released a statement Wednesday saying that her office is now "committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure that all terms and conditions of Hubbart's release from custody are strictly enforced."
Hubbart's attorney, Santa Clara County Deputy Public Defender Jeff Dunn, said last month that his client had embraced intensive treatment for years while locked up in a state mental hospital and is not a public safety risk. He said Hubbart's request for release was supported by his treating psychologist at Coalinga State Hospital and the hospital's medical director.
Dunn could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
The case has sparked alarm in Los Angeles County, where county supervisors have expressed concern that Hubbart poses a danger to public safety.
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 committed more sexual assaults 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 Santa Clara County judge ruled in May that Hubbart should be freed under tight supervision in Los Angeles County, where Hubbart grew up and where he lived briefly the last time he was released from prison in 1993.
Hubbart will be released once housing is set up and approved by the judge, a process that can take six months to a year, authorities said. Once he is conditionally freed, Hubbart will have to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, report his movements and submit regularly to a polygraph and other tests.