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Serial rapist's freedom comes with strict limits

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By TAMI ABDOLLAH
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) - He can't be alone outside after dark, needs permission to walk through his neighborhood or go to a bowling alley, and must allow random searches and polygraph tests. For the first time in roughly two decades, serial rapist Christopher Hubbart is free, so to speak, but that freedom comes with strict limitations.

Nicknamed the "Pillowcase Rapist" because he used a pillowcase to muffle his victims' screams, Hubbart moved into his new home outside Palmdale earlier this week despite protests from people in the community about 70 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

The 63-year-old has acknowledged raping or assaulting 40 women between 1971 and 1983.

Guards stand watch around the clock to protect the public from him and him from those who have fought against his release for months. Protesters have camped outside the tiny home on a dusty plot this week as sheriff's deputies patrolled outside every few hours.

Hubbart is one of a dozen people deemed sexually violent predators who are being monitored by the state-contracted Liberty Healthcare Corp. His public defender, Jeffrey Dunn, declined to comment.

Hubbart's 16-page conditional release terms, at least initially, are a lot like house arrest.

"He's not going anywhere on his own, and in fact he's not even allowed to drive a car or take the bus, and probably won't be at least for another year," said Santa Clara County prosecutor Vonda Tracey. "If he's going to the grocery store, somebody's going with him. Somebody is driving him to his appointments. When he's not got some place he needs to be, he's at home, and he's not allowed to leave the property."

Hubbart must wear a GPS anklet and continue treatment, and he needs permission to work, use the Internet, or visit the park, beach or pool.

When his prison term ended in 1996, Hubbart was put in a mental hospital under California's civil commitment law. To be constitutionally correct, ex-cons must be able to progress and ultimately graduate from treatment - after all, they've already served their time. A court will hold annual hearings to decide whether to continue Hubbart's supervision, return him to the hospital or eventually release him unconditionally.

Supporters of the state's Sexually Violent Predator program say it allows authorities to keep dangerous people who'd otherwise be freed as parolees locked up longer and under more stringent supervision.

"For somebody who's on probation or parole, you've got one agent for dozens of people," Tracey said. "For sexually violent predators, you have a whole team of people, and their sole job is to keep Christopher Hubbart out of trouble."

But there's palpable fear in the community. Sharon Duvernay, 62, is one of Hubbart's closest neighbors. She was also raped as a child.

"It's absolutely horrifying," Duvernay said. "The restrictions will never be good enough for me. He needs to be in a place where he's watched 24 hours by more than two guards."

Duvernay was camped outside Hubbart's home again Friday with other Ladies of Lake LA, a community group created to fight his release to their desert community.

"We're so isolated, and that's why we love it out here it's really peaceful," Duvernay said. But she said phone use is spotty, patrols infrequent and "we're terrified he'll do this again."

___

Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams .

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