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Supreme Court denies bid to stop rapist's release to L.A. County

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 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.

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. 

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 conditionally freed, Hubbart will have to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, report his movements and submit to regular lie detector and other tests. 

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jack.leonard@latimes.com

Twitter: @jackfleonard

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