COSTA MESA -- A convicted child molester who has been locked up for
three years in a state psychiatric hospital for writing a sinister letter
fantasizing about raping and killing a boy has been charged with
molesting another boy five years ago, officials said.
The Orange County district attorney charged Cary Jay Smith, 41, with
performing lewd acts on a Costa Mesa child between September 1996 and
The boy was younger than 14 years old at the time and came forward
with the complaint years later, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Beth Costello,
who is prosecuting the case.
Officials said Smith, a Santa Ana resident at the time, befriended the
boy in his Costa Mesa neighborhood.
The case unfolded when a private investigator befriended Smith during
his time at Patton State Hospital, claiming he wanted to write a book,
During interviews with the investigator, Smith divulged information
that pointed in the direction of the victim. The case was investigated by
Costa Mesa police.
Smith has been charged with 22 counts of child molestation. But that
could include a variety of sex acts that have not been specified,
If convicted of all charges, Smith could face up to 50 years in
Smith's mental illness, however, will play a significant role in the
trial, Costello said.
"The issue is whether he is competent to stand trial," she said.
A hearing will likely follow after Smith's arraignment Feb. 11, when
the court could hear testimony from doctors and psychiatrists, Costello
Smith was admitted to Patton in 1999 after his wife found a letter
written by him that described in lurid detail sexual acts that he wanted
to perform on a 7-year-old Costa Mesa boy.
Smith lived in Santa Ana but regularly visited his parents, who lived
near Paularino Elementary School.
The news of the letter caused an uproar in the Mesa North neighborhood
where he lived, including from the boy's parents, the Vogts.
They have been lobbying since to pass legislation that would allow
child molesters to be placed on lifetime parole.
They haven't been successful. But news of the new charges Monday came
as a pleasant surprise to Lynn Vogt.
"I feel wonderful and relieved," she said. "Fifty years in prison. I
couldn't have asked for more. It doesn't get better than this."
Vogt said she has been living in fear for the last three years that
Smith could be released from the hospital. In 2000, Smith tried to
convince a jury that he was sane enough to be released. But he lost the
trial after several witnesses testified and Smith himself admitted to
molesting more than 200 boys.
Patients who are committed to Patton State Hospital are allowed to
petition for their release every six months. Smith is up for another such
hearing Feb. 23.
Vogt said she and her family have received tremendous support locally
after the incident, which changed their lives and altered their idea of
"It has been more of a community partnership," she said. "I went out
of the way to meet my neighbors and know who they are. It really helped."
* Deepa Bharath covers public safety and courts. She may be reached at
(949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at o7 email@example.com .