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A City Mobilizes Quickly to Protest Rapist’s Release : Prisons: Claremont residents express relief after felon’s impending parole is revoked for failing psychiatric exam.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A failed psychiatric exam kept a serial rapist in prison Wednesday, causing a sigh of relief in Claremont, where residents had mounted a virtually instant protest when they learned this week of his plans to return to his family’s home upon being paroled.

Some demonstrators, who carried banners such as “Lorena Bobbitt, Where Are You?” and vowed to stand vigil outside the family’s Baseline Road home to prevent Christopher Evans Hubbart from moving back, broke into cheers at the news.

“Our community has stuck together,” said John Buck, 24, who lives three doors away from the Hubbart house.

Hubbart, 43, is believed to be responsible for 50 rapes over 22 years in California. He flunked a routine psychiatric evaluation on the day of his expected parole after serving almost four years of his sentence in state prison. The rapist, who is classified by the state as a sexual predator, was sent back to the men’s prison in Chino, where he will have a hearing and probably stay another year in custody, corrections spokesman Bill Gengler said.

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Hubbart has been in and out of prison since 1973 and has been convicted of rape several times. In 1979, he committed a rape on the same day he was paroled for another crime.

Within 24 hours of learning about the impending release, the peaceful college town in the San Gabriel Valley quickly organized into an anti-Hubbart machine, complete with supposedly confidential copies of the convicted rapist’s Justice Department profile, flyers bearing his picture and rallies going in shifts.

One of those in front of the house Wednesday was Katie Girardot, who said she went to high school with Hubbart in the late 1960s and found him a “quiet and unassuming” youth. But, she said, “that doesn’t mean I want him to come back.”

The wheels of activism began turning Tuesday morning when Ellen Taylor, president of the Claremont League of Women Voters, learned in the local newspaper about Hubbart’s plans to return to the home where he lived as a child.

“I’m really impressed with what we all did,” Taylor said. “We hit the phones and just called a bunch of people.” Members called local political offices, City Hall, school officials, parent groups and “any organization with a lot of contacts.”

City Hall officials obliged with a podium and microphone, state Senate and Assembly members sent representatives and at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday more than 250 people rallied on the steps of City Hall. By Wednesday morning, 20 people were marching outside Hubbart’s family home.

Mayor Diann Ring, who was out of town for a National League of Cities Conference, came back Wednesday and within hours faxed a letter of protest to Gov. Pete Wilson.

Rallying on a moment’s notice is common in the upper-middle-class city of 32,500 people, Ring said, especially for issues such as fighting U.S. involvement in the Gulf War, hillside development and police brutality in cases such as the Rodney G. King beating.

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Ring called the protests against Hubbart’s release “a genuine groundswell of people.”

At the core of the town’s activism are the League of Women Voters, students from the prestigious Claremont Colleges, and 300 former religious workers and pastors from a retirement home, whom Ring calls “the conscience of the community.”

Activists said they took their cue from residents in Northern California who protested the release of serial rapist Melvin Carter, who confessed to raping more than 100 women over an 11-year period in Palo Alto, Berkeley and other Bay Area towns.

Carter remains in custody after a Northern California judge ordered him released but gave the state Department of Corrections authority to designate a later time, a state corrections official said.

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A key rallying point in Claremont was a confidential Department of Corrections memo that protesters will not reveal how they got. They reproduced it on flyers and handed it out at rallies. According to the memo: Hubbart is a “classic power/reassurance serial rapist” who has learned from his mistakes and perfected his technique. His victims were 20 to 38 years old. His crimes were committed between 3 and 5 a.m. when he entered homes via unlocked doors or windows and surprised sleeping victims.

Psychological profiles show that he is “uncontrollably compulsive and essentially immature,” the report said. “There has been no change in this man since he started his rampages against women.”

The information about Hubbart prompted cries of outrage from Claremont residents who were concerned not only about women in their city but college students on campus, city officials said.

“This is absolutely ridiculous,” said Arnold Simon, 70, a Baseline Road resident. “I’m frightened for my wife and the girls who live in the neighborhood.”

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In addition, Ring said that because Claremont’s plight paralleled that of Northern California, perhaps legislators may take notice and change the laws on sentencing to allow for a review before prisoners are released.

“If Southern California and Northern California are outraged, maybe we can get some action in Sacramento,” Ring said.

Previously, prisoners were evaluated for release by a parole board. However, for prisoners sentenced under recent sentencing laws, no such review exists, and sentences are predetermined by law. Hubbart cut his latest sentence of five years to almost three years with time off for good behavior and prison work. However, two months after the parole in 1993, he failed a psychiatric exam and was sent back to prison for another year.

When he again came up for parole this week, Hubbart had to take a psychiatric exam again. He was taken from the prison to an unnamed site for the test and then returned to the prison after he failed it.

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Times staff writer Joe Donnelly and correspondent Andrew LePage contributed to this story.

A History of Crime

Christopher Evans Hubbart, who failed a psychiatric examination Wednesday during the process of being released from prison on parole, has a 20-year history of sexual offenses.

* Nov. 7, 1972: Arrested in Chino for attempted rape. Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies linked him to 24 rapes from May through September in the San Gabriel Valley, and in Orange and San Bernardino counties.

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* June 28, 1973: Sent to Atascadero State Hospital as a mentally disabled sex offender.

* 1979 : Released from Atascadero. Committed a rape the same day.

* Sept. 2, 1982: Sentenced to 16 years in Vacaville Medical Facility for forcible rape, oral copulation and burglary after a series of 10 rapes in the Sunnyvale area in Santa Clara County in Northern California.

* Nov. 21, 1983: While in prison, convicted of a previous 1972 rape. Sentenced to nine more years to run concurrently with his sentence.

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* April 12, 1990: Released on parole.

* June 20, 1990: Attacks another woman.

* Aug. 20, 1990: Sentenced to five years in San Quentin State Prison after an attempted rape in Northern California.

* Jan. 25, 1993: Released from state prison on parole.

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* March 16, 1993: Returned for one year to state prison for failing to pass a psychiatric evaluation while on parole.

* March 16, 1994: Failed psychiatric examination during the process of being released from state prison on parole.


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