'Pillowcase Rapist' Christopher Hubbart back in custody after failing to meet release terms

Christopher Evans Hubbart holed up inside his small home in the desert outside Palmdale and almost never left. He knew his neighbors hated him.

When the notorious serial rapist moved in two years ago, shock and fear settled into the community. It wasn’t enough, some neighbors said, that he’d had years of intense treatment or that he was under the constant watch of cameras and live-in guards. They wanted him back behind bars.

On Tuesday, they got their wish.

Santa Clara County court spokesman Joseph Macaluso said officials with Liberty Healthcare, a state contractor overseeing Hubbart’s conditional release, contacted the court Tuesday to tell them that he had “failed to meet the terms” of his release. Hubbart’s attorney didn’t return calls for comment.

Under the conditions of his release — detailed in a 16-page document — Hubbart agreed to several restrictions, including wearing a GPS bracelet, not associating with other convicts and avoiding television shows, movies or digital media that “act as stimulus to arouse.”

Macaluso did not say how Hubbart had violated the conditions but said he had been returned to Coalinga State Hospital.

Hubbart — dubbed the “Pillowcase Rapist” for his pattern of covering victims’ heads — was released in July 2014 from the mental hospital in Coalinga, near Fresno, to a home along a dirt road lined by rusting cars and abandoned mattresses in Lake Los Angeles.

He was required to attend group and individual therapy sessions twice a week while being supervised full time by the Liberty Conditional Release Program. The program’s vice president, Kenneth Carabello, referred all questions about Hubbart to the Department of State Hospitals, and the department’s spokesman declined to comment, citing patient privacy rights.

At the time of Hubbart’s release, residents criticized the relocation, saying they feared the sexual predator would strike again. John Bays, Hubbart’s retired former parole officer who said he long had the same fear, praised Hubbart’s return to custody.

“Christopher Hubbart is a waste of a human heart,” he said. “He never should have gotten out.”

Hubbart has admitted assaulting dozens of women in the 1970s and ’80s. In 1972, he was confined to a state hospital for a series of sexual assaults in the Pomona and San Gabriel valleys, then released. Years later, he was arrested again for attacks in the Bay Area and sent to prison for eight years, according to court records.

Two months after his release, he sneaked up behind a jogger, pressed his hand over her mouth and grabbed her breasts.

While he was behind bars again, politicians portrayed Hubbart as the poster child for why the state needed to lock up its most dangerous sex offenders —  even after they’d finished serving their prison terms.

In 1996, before Hubbart could be released from prison, prosecutors in Santa Clara County asked a court to send him to a state mental hospital under California’s new Sexually Violent Predator law, which allowed the state to confine violent sex offenders in hospitals if they have a mental disorder that makes them likely to reoffend. Hubbart became the first person held under the new law.

Before his return to custody Tuesday, state-funded security guards kept constant watch over Hubbart, partly to protect the public from Hubbart and partly to protect him from protesters who regularly gathered outside. Demonstrators successfully pressured a water company to stop delivering to the home, and local law enforcement investigated anonymous death threats against Hubbart.

In court documents, officials with the state contractor overseeing Hubbart’s treatment expressed concern that the ongoing demonstrations were “wearing the client down.”

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey requested a hearing last year, pleading for the repeal of Hubbart’s release.

Prosecutors argued that Hubbart was a threat and had violated his release by allowing the power on his required ankle monitor to run low.

“We believe this violent predator continues to pose a serious danger to our community,” Lacey said at the time.

In May 2015, Santa Clara County Judge Richard Loftus denied Lacey’s request.

In a statement Tuesday, Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) called Hubbart’s return to custody “no surprise,” adding that he hopes he never returns.

“We should never put our public at risk again,” he said.

Cheryl Holbrook, who lives a few miles from Hubbart’s home in Lake Los Angeles, says she has lived in fear since his release, adding that it prompted her to install cameras around her home. She says she always keeps her gun nearby — just in case.

Holbrook, who protested outside Hubbart’s home the day he moved in and attended some of his court hearings, celebrated the news of his return to custody Tuesday.

“Yes! Oh, my God! I’m ecstatic,” she said. “This is beyond, beyond the best news I’ve ever had. This is like winning the lottery.”

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

marisa.gerber@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA and @marisagerber on Twitter.

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UPDATES:

7:50 p.m.: This article was rewritten.

4:10 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Santa Clara County court spokesman Joseph Macaluso about Hubbart’s release.

2:20 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale).

2 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from John Bays.

This article was originally published at 1:20 p.m.

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