Convicted sexual predator Brian DeVries will not be released to
Morgan Hill this week as neighbors feared, but a judge Wednesday
did not completely rule it out for the future, though he directed
the controlling agency to widen the search to the entire state and
to change the way the public is notified.
Convicted sexual predator Brian DeVries will not be released to Morgan Hill this week as neighbors feared, but a judge Wednesday did not completely rule it out for the future, though he directed the controlling agency to widen the search to the entire state and to change the way the public is notified.

Rumors began circulating this past weekend that a house at 865 W. Main Ave., near schools, the library, day care centers, the YMCA and parks was under consideration as a release site for the physically castrated child molester. The information triggered a wave of calls to City Hall, the police department and the media from neighbors trying to ascertain the truth.

Nora Romero, spokeswoman for the Department of Mental Health, supervisors of the case, tried Monday to diffuse the public worries.

“Whatever location we settle on,” she said, “we wouldn’t be releasing him right in the middle of an area with schools.”

However, according to City Councilwoman Hedy Chang, the landlord of the Morgan Hill house had been approached about renting to DeVries. The small, older home is in the furthermost block before Main ends at John Telfer Drive on the flanks of El Toro Mountain.

Before the hearing Mayor Dennis Kennedy faxed a letter to Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Robert Baines, stating his objections to locating DeVries in the “small, tightly knit, family-oriented town.”

“The crimes committed by Mr. DeVries were of such an appalling nature that every parent in Morgan Hill will be terrorized by the presence of such an individual in our town,” Kennedy wrote. “… I anticipate that, given the high profile nature of Mr. DeVries’ case, any attempt by the authorities to situate (him) here will be met not only with ostracism, but with outright hostility and an active attempt to ensure that Mr. DeVries is not a long-term resident of Morgan Hill.”

Baines met for 45 minutes in chambers Wednesday morning with DeVries’ attorney Brian Matthews, Susan King, attorney for the Department of Mental Health and, as a courtesy, attorneys for the cities of Morgan Hill and San Jose. Baines then announced to a courtroom full of concerned Morgan Hill citizens, officials and reporters that no location had been agreed upon.

DeVries currently resides in the Atascadero State Mental Facility for the Criminal Insane where he is labeled a “sexually violent predator”. He was convicted of molesting an 8-year-old boy in 1994 and had been previously convicted in several other states, starting in 1978. In August 2002, DeVries was physically castrated, at his own request, and has since fulfilled a program for “sexually violent predators”.

Because DeVries lived in Santa Clara County before his incarceration, the DMH has been looking for a release site within the county.

Baines questioned the need to limit the search for a location to the county and said he wants to broaden the scope of the search to throughout California.

“The statute does not limit the location to the county, though it has been the department’s policy to do so,” Baines said.

King objected to that.

“Our purpose is not to dump or locate (these people) where they have no connection to the community,” King said.

Baines said he understood the concerns, but thinks it’s proper for the department to look at all appropriate locations so DeVries can be released.

The judge added that he was concerned with DeVries’ continued incarceration, since he has completed his sentence and the treatment program for sexually violent predators.

Matthews said his concerns about the extra time his client has remained in custody are becoming ever more pressing; the judge himself was troubled with the time frame. DeVries has been incarcerated for seven months past the time the staff at the Atascadero Mental Health Facility for the Criminally Insane said they could do no more for him. The castration was part of the treatment program, though chemical castration is also used.

DeVries is now being held involuntarily without treatment and this is unconstitutional, Matthews said. He also asked for an unconditional release for his client.

If no city or county is willing to take DeVries as part of the conditional release program for sexual predators where they remain under supervision, he would be released “unconditionally,” according to Romero.

“In the worst case scenario,” Romero said, “if we can’t find housing for him, he will be released unconditionally and we won’t know where he is.”

DeVries was to have been released to a sparsely populated area on Monterey Road, in San Jose, considerably north of Morgan Hill, plans that were nixed after the motel owner said no deal had been reached after a series of news reports.

The outcry from San Jose residents, not wanting DeVries in their midst, also caused the release to be derailed, according to Romero.

The judge then addressed the courtroom, which was filled with Morgan Hill residents and city officials including Councilman Larry Carr, City Attorney Helene Leichter and Morgan Hill Police Lt. Terrie Booten. Baines told them he couldn’t totally control where DeVries eventually ends up, but promised no final decision will be made without notifying local law enforcement and public officials.

“The public will know long before a decision will be made,” Baines said, stressing the word “long”.

Carr, who lives near the West Main address, said he was not relieved by the morning’s events.

“(Locating him in Morgan Hill) hasn’t been ruled out,” Carr said, adding that he was encouraged the search will be broadened.

“I hope they will find a less- or non-populated area, a less family-populated area than Morgan Hill,” Carr said.

Carr, responding to comments by King that the department prefers to release people to familiar surroundings, said, “Where is DeVries’ family? Certainly not in Morgan Hill. He has no connection to Morgan Hill.”

A resident who lives in the 800 block of West Main, but who wanted to remain anonymous, described the chance that DeVries might end up in his neighborhood in one word.

“Ugly,” he said.

City Attorney Leichter said after the session in chambers Wednesday that she and the council are concerned because neither the city nor the police department was notified of DeVries’ release.

“(The Department of Mental Health) can enter into a lease and then submit it to the court for the court’s review before notifying city and police officials or the public.”

Baines assured the public that it would be notified before a final destination was chosen.

Booten said she was encouraged to hear that Morgan Hill was not targeted as the location. In response to the large turnout of Morgan Hill citizens, she said, “It was great, the voice of the people needs to be heard. When concerned citizens and police department come together to support an issue that makes for a stronger community.”

Baines set a further hearing for June 27, at 1:30 p.m. in which he will hear a placement report from the state Department of Mental Health.

Santa Clara County Superior Court, Dept. 1, 191 N. First St. at Julian Street, San Jose.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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