'Pillowcase Rapist' who was living in L.A. area must be confined to a state hospital, judge rules

A judge in Santa Clara County ruled Friday to revoke the conditional release of a notorious serial rapist who had been living in a home in the Antelope Valley after his 2014 release from a state mental hospital.

The decision by Santa Clara County Judge Richard Loftus means that Christopher Hubbart will again be confined to a state hospital, where he was locked up as a sexually violent predator for nearly two decades. He will remain confined for at least a year, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Hubbart — nicknamed the Pillowcase Rapist for his pattern of covering victims’ heads during his attacks — has admitted to at least 44 sexual assaults across the state.

“Christopher Hubbart is a prolific serial rapist, and even after years of treatment, he remains a danger to women,” Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said in a statement.

Hubbart’s attorney didn’t return calls and an email seeking comment.

When the 65-year-old moved into a small house on a dirt road outside Palmdale in the summer of 2014, his arrival brought panic and outrage to the community. Neighbors gathered outside the home to protest, carrying “keep out” signs and waving pillowcases in the air.

The demonstrators, who protested for months, pressured a water company to stop delivering to the home and law enforcement investigated anonymous death threats against the unwelcome neighbor. Before long, Hubbart — who was monitored by guards around the clock —  built a fence. The healthcare company overseeing Hubbart’s treatment wrote to tell a judge that the demonstrations were “wearing the client down.”

Under the conditions of his release — detailed in a 16-page document — Hubbart agreed to several restrictions, including wearing a GPS bracelet, not calling phone sex lines, staying in his home after 9 p.m., and avoiding television shows, movies or digital media that “act as stimulus to arouse.” He also promised to keep a log of any sexual thoughts involving past victims and “maintain full transparency” with his treatment providers.

In August, Coalinga police officers arrested him at the Lake Los Angeles home after prosecutors say he violated several terms of his release, including failing five polygraph tests. He also refused to participate in treatment in a “meaningful manner,” withheld important information and wasn’t transparent with his treatment providers, prosecutors said.

Hubbart’s attacks date back at least to the early 1970s, while he was living in Southern California and working at his stepfather’s furniture factory. 

In 1972, he was confined to a state hospital — where he was classified as a mentally disordered sex offender —  for a series of sexual assaults in the Pomona and San Gabriel valleys, according to court records. 

Within months of his release in 1979, he’d started to attack again. He was arrested two years later for attacks in the Bay Area and sent to prison for eight years. Two months after his release, he attacked again, this time sneaking up behind a jogger and grabbing her breasts.

During his time behind bars, politicians portrayed him as a poster child for why the state should lock up its most dangerous sex offenders even beyond their prison terms. In 1996 — shortly before his scheduled release from prison — Santa Clara County prosecutors asked to have Hubbart sent to a mental hospital under the state’s new Sexually Violent Predator law.

He became the first person ever held using the law, which allows the state to confine predators in hospitals if they have a mental disorder making them likely to reoffend. At his civil commitment trial, two state doctors testified that Hubbart had severe paraphilia — deviant sexual behavior. 

Cheryl Holbrook, who lives a few miles from the home where Hubbart was living, said his arrival in her neighborhood two years ago horrified her. She began to have racing thoughts and imagined Hubbart breaking out of his home and attacking women. She installed cameras at her home and always kept her gun nearby.

When she learned of his arrest in August, she broke down in sobs and her body began to shake — she was ecstatic, she said. And when she heard details of why he’d been arrested, she felt even more relieved he was confined.

“To fail a polygraph five times?” she said. “Inexcusable.”

She expressed tempered optimism Friday, saying she’s still concerned Hubbart can ask to be conditionally released again in a year.

“It’s better than nothing,” she said. “But he needs to stay in until he dies. He needs to rot in there.”

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