A man who raped 38 women over decades throughout California is coming back to Los Angeles -- the scene of many of his crimes -- after the state Supreme Court late Wednesday denied prosecutors' attempts to keep him under lock and key at a state mental hospital.
Christopher Hubbart, dubbed the "Pillowcase Rapist" because he muffled his victims' screams by placing pillowcases over their heads, could be released within weeks, though the exact date is unknown.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey petitioned the state Supreme Court in July to block his release from Coalinga State Hospital, but the move failed.
"We aggressively pursued and exhausted all legal avenues to stop the release of sexually violent predator Christopher Hubbart to Los Angeles County," Lacey said Wednesday.
"We now are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure that all terms and conditions of Hubbart's release from custody are strictly enforced," she added.
"I'm extremely disappointed," Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. "Releasing this individual into the county where many of the victims and their families live is unreasonable and unfair."
Efforts are underway to notify Hubbart's victims.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Luis Patino could not discuss Hubbart's case specifically but said that generally ex-cons with a record like his can expect to be closely monitored by parole agents.
"Any sex offender, especially one that's a serial rapist, would be subject to 24-hour supervision with a GPS ankle bracelet, register (as a sex offender) and be placed under very strong special conditions of parole," Patino said.
Lacey noted in her petition that Hubbart testified in court about his crimes before being committed to Atascadero State Hospital as a "mentally disordered offender."
"(Hubbart) began to sexually assault women in their homes in 1972," the petition said. "He committed 25 or 26 such assaults that year, all of them in the Los Angeles area. He would drive around in the early morning and look for homes that had garage doors open, indicating the man of the house had gone to work. He would also look for children's toys, believing that mothers would be protective of their children and more likely to cooperate with him. He would bind the women's hands and cover their faces, then sexually assault them."
When he was released in 1979, he attacked more women in San Francisco and Sunnyvale, was convicted and re-committed to Atascadero. After Hubbart was paroled in 1990, he attacked a female jogger and was sent back to state prison.
In 1993, he was paroled yet again and lived in Claremont. "Within two months," the petition stated, "his supervision by San Bernardino County ended since he felt he was losing control." At that point, he was recommitted and remains in custody -- but not for much longer.
Hubbart's case prompted the state Legislature to pass the Sexually Violent Predators Act, which allows authorities to keep offenders like Hubbart in custody until officials deem them safe.
After hearing from mental health professionals in April, a Santa Clara County judge ruled Hubbart, now 62, eligible for release and ordered him relocated to Los Angeles County.
Over Lacey's protests, a San Jose appeals court and the state Supreme Court both upheld the decision. ___