Photo Credit: KFI's Steve Ballas
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — After months of writing letters and signing petitions, community members of a sparsely populated portion of Los Angeles County finally got a chance Wednesday to be heard by a judge who they feel has unfairly decided to dump a serial rapist into their midst. The only catch:
They had to travel 350 miles north to Santa Clara County Superior Court to do so.
The decision by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Gilbert Brown to release Christopher Evans Hubbart, 63, to a desert community in the Antelope Valley has been met by vociferous opposition from the Los Angeles County district attorney and others. Hubbart has acknowledged raping and assaulting about 40 women between 1971 and 1982.
Brown is conducting the six-hour hearing in San Jose to hear comments and opinions on where Hubbart should live.
Brown earlier determined that Hubbart should live in the Antelope Valley because the convicted rapist was born and raised in Los Angeles County; his more recent crimes were committed in Santa Clara County. When Hubbart's prison term ended in 1996, he was deemed a sexually violent predator and confined to a state mental hospital.
Brown's decision has angered leaders and residents in Antelope Valley.
"We're a dumping ground," Palmdale Mayor James Ledford said. "It's very frustrating. He didn't offend here. He offended 40 times we know of elsewhere. So why us? Again. There's just no accountability in the system."
Release terms would require him to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, continue treatment, obey a curfew and be subject to random searches and seizures, drug testing and polygraphs.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has collected more than 4,000 letters, emails and cards opposing Hubbart's release in Los Angeles County and plans to submit those to the court at Wednesday's hearing, said spokeswoman Jane Robison. The local community in the Antelope Valley has also generated about 8,000 letters, Ledford said.
At a rally Tuesday, more than a hundred people, including Ledford, held up signs and wore T-shirts opposing Hubbart's release. About eight Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies stood watch nearby a "shack" that would become Hubbart's home, Ledford said. Though it would likely fetch about $500 a month in rent, the state will pay about $2,400 a month, Ledford said.
Ledford said the judge, who isn't elected by local voters, declined to allow video or telephone conferencing for people who couldn't make the roughly six-hour drive midweek, Ledford said.
Democratic Assemblyman Steve Fox of Palmdale plans to speak against Hubbart's release at the hearing, spokeswoman Sandra Kramer said. Fox has authored a bill to revise the state's Sexually Violent Predator Act so that potential areas for release must be given notice and an opportunity to be heard in court prior to selection. It would also then transfer the case to the local county's court for supervision.
Cheryl Holbrook, who is one of the Ladies of Lake LA, a community group created to fight Hubbart's release to their community, left town Tuesday evening with three other women to travel north.
Speakers must have signed in by 10 a.m. in order to comment.
Holbrook, who lives about 5 miles away from Hubbart's proposed home, said she has been flashing back to when she was raped as a 14-year-old by two men at knifepoint and impregnated.
"We're not going to tolerate this," Holbrook said. "We don't want him here. He's going to be out in the middle of the desert, out in the middle of nowhere, where if he attacks someone they're going to scream for their life and no one's going to hear."