Hubbart’s request for Palmdale area rental denied by homeowner

Plans to release a serial rapist to a rental home in the Lake Los Angeles area of the Antelope Valley are up in the air after the property owner withdrew the lease from consideration. Authorities say the decision will likely only delay, not stop, the release of former Claremont resident Christopher Hubbart.

On October 25, a Santa Clara court announced that Mr. Hubbart—a sex offender who has admitted to raping nearly 40 women—would be discharged from Coalinga State Hospital to the high desert community. His release was anticipated as soon as December.  

In the weeks following the news, more than 420 people sent emails or letters to the LA County District Attorney’s Office, which set up a task force to prevent Mr. Hubbart’s discharge. All, but one of those correspondents opposed Mr. Hubbart’s release.

Local officials such as LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who has been vocal about his opposition to Mr. Hubbart’s release, are pleased to learn of the delay, while recognizing the fight is not over.

“Our Lake Los Angeles community has been successful in preventing Hubbart’s release to their neighborhood,” Mr. Antonovich said in a statement last week. “This is a significant victory.”

Claremont City Manager Tony Ramos is glad Mr. Hubbart, who has been nicknamed “the Pillowcase Rapist,” will not be coming to Claremont. Nonetheless, he maintains the convicted felon “is a threat to any community he is being released to.”

“It is unfortunate that he is being released at all with his criminal record,” Mr. Ramos said.

An estimated 520 properties were considered for Mr. Hubbart’s new home, with one landlord agreeing to rent, according to a timeline of community placement provided by Mr. Antonovich. Despite the property’s compliance with Jessica’s Law, which bans registered sex offenders from residing within 2000 feet of a park or school, the rental was reportedly located near a county park and community church.

The landlord’s decision to withdraw his offer to Mr. Hubbart does not stop his release, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Vonda Tracey emphasized. Mr. Hubbart will be let out regardless of whether a permanent home can be found, she told The Los Angeles Times. She added that it is not uncommon for a landlord to go back on a decision to lease to “sexually violent predators who have been ordered released.” If a permanent residence for Mr. Hubbart cannot be obtained, Ms. Tracey said it would be more difficult for him to be monitored because he would be continually relocating.

Liberty Healthcare Corporation, an independent healthcare provider, will be in charge of finding a suitable home for Mr. Hubbart and in charge of his surveillance once he is released, according to Melissa Dorsey of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station. A new home has not yet been identified, authorities say.

Mr. Hubbart had spent nearly 30 years in and out of prison and state mental hospitals when Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Gilbert T. Brown determined in May that Mr. Hubbart’s ability to pass a psychological exam meant he “would not be a danger to others due to his diagnosed mental disorder while under the supervision and treatment in the community.” The convicted rapist has failed previous psychological exams.

The news of Mr. Hubbart’s impending release caused uproar across the county, prompting the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office to file a writ with the Sixth District Court of Appeals. The petition was denied in July. Ms. Lacey then turned to the Supreme Court, which also denied the appeal.

Mr. Hubbart, who has been described by a state official as “uncontrollably compulsive,” was first arrested in 1972 in connection with a series of rapes in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. In 1982, Mr. Hubbart returned to confinement, convicted of rape with force, oral copulation with force and five counts of burglary.

Roughly two weeks after his parole, he returned to Vacaville in 1990 for false imprisonment. His parole was again cut short a few years later when he failed a routine psychological exam. He has remained in prison since 1994, repeatedly failing psychological examinations. But after completing another treatment program last year, Mr. Hubbart was able to pass the test and has asked to be let out.

Mr. Hubbart’s release from Coalinga State Hospital to the high desert community is conditional upon 24-hour surveillance with a GPS ankle bracelet, to be monitored by Liberty Healthcare. In addition, Mr. Hubbart will be subject to random drug and polygraph tests as well as a strict curfew, according to the release terms. Once community placement begins, reports or hearings will take place every 90 days or sooner if deemed necessary. Any failure to meet these terms will result in a return to custody.

—Beth Hartnett


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