A judge approved the conditional release Tuesday of a man classified as a sexually violent predator to a home in Jacumba Hot Springs.
William Stafford, 71, will be relocated from Coalinga State Hospital to a home located at 42457 Old Highway 80, where he is expected to continue treatment under supervision.
Stafford is slated to be placed in the Old Highway 80 home by mid-November. He is the fifth sexually violent predator to be released to the desert community.
San Diego Superior Court Judge David Gill authorized Stafford’s release during a brief court hearing on Tuesday. His decision followed another public hearing in which Gill heard from dozens of residents opposing the release, many of whom expressed concerns about the level of supervision Stafford would be under and what protocols were in place should he re-offend.
Officials from Liberty Healthcare, which operates the Conditional Release Program for SVPs, have stated that none of the patients released over the past two decades have re-offended.
Along with the residents, County Supervisor Joel Anderson, whose district includes Jacumba Hot Springs, spoke out against the placement during the hearing.
In a statement released Tuesday following the judge’s ruling, Anderson said, “To say that I’m disappointed with this decision is an understatement. When Jacumba now houses 71.4% of all of San Diego County’s SVPs, our judges are turning this disadvantaged community into a de facto village for SVPs.”
Gill did not elaborate on what led him to approve Stafford’s release, but said he did visit the community in person last week and viewed the home.
Stafford is classified as a sexually violent predator, a designation for those convicted of sexually violent offenses and diagnosed with a mental disorder — a paraphilic disorder in Stafford’s case — that makes them likely to re-offend. After serving their prison sentences, SVPs undergo treatment at state hospitals, but may also petition courts to continue treatment in outpatient locations, where they are monitored via GPS, among other measures.
According to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, Stafford has been convicted of “numerous felony sex offenses occurring between 1968- 1990 in San Diego County,” including rape by force/fear and unlawful sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 18.
He was sentenced to 20 years in state prison in 1990 and petitioned for placement into the Conditional Release Program in 2019.
Updated at 11:15 a.m. Oct. 11, 2022
–City News Service