SAN DIEGO -- A convicted sex offender's potential release from a state hospital and placement in rural East County drew a substantial crowd to a downtown San Diego courtroom Friday, which included the inmate's victims.
Alan Earl James, 56, was convicted in 1981 and 1986 of numerous sex- related felonies involving several minor victims -- which included James' younger relatives-- and sentenced to 28 years in state prison.
James, who is classified as a "sexually violent predator," was committed to Coalinga State Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment "for an indeterminate term," until he petitioned for a monitored conditional release last summer, prosecutors said.
The California Department of State Hospitals have proposed to place James at 45612 Old Highway 80 in Jacumba Hot Springs, a property under the jurisdiction of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department staffed by sheriff's deputies that previously housed sexually violent predators.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge Albert Harutunian -- who recommended James' integration into the conditional release program last fall based upon the evaluation of psychiatric experts -- said he understood the public's opposition to James' release, but said citizens would be better suited directing their concerns towards the legislature, which determines sentencing guidelines and penalties for offenders.
Nonetheless, several speakers that included James' relatives victimized as children, spoke of their fears that James would re-offend, even if released to a supervised facility.
Robert N., who now lives on the East Coast, said he flew 3,000 miles to make his voice heard regarding James' release. He said James held a butterknife to his neck and threatened to kill him if he told anyone about the abuse, which happened to him and his siblings more than 30 years ago.
"My biggest fear is that this time, he'll end up killing a kid," he said. "I understand that he's going to be monitored and all that, but eventually, there's going to come to a point where someone's going to turn their head or something and not be paying attention and that's where he's going to end up striking."
Robert N.'s sister, who went by L.N. while speaking to the court, said James assaulted her when she was four years old, and urged Harutunian to have James placed in a facility apart from communities where children and families live.
"I feel he will re-offend given the opportunity," she said.
Following his conviction and release for abuse committed against her and her siblings, L.N. said James assaulted another girl and was convicted again.
"I understand he has to be released. However, he just does not need to be in the community of San Diego. I no longer live in San Diego. However, I still have family here, family that are children, as well as adults, and will all be impacted by this. I just fear that he will hurt another child and I don't want that to ever happen again."
County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose district includes Jacumba Hot Springs, said the rural communities of eastern San Diego County have experienced "an over-concentration" of sexually violent predator placements and have become "easy pickins" for the placement of sex offenders.
According to Jacob, nine sexually violent predators have been placed in Jacumba Hot Springs, Campo and Boulevard.
"There are not the resources, there are not the services out there (in the East County) in order to support the ongoing treatment of sexually violent predators, yet the state has chosen to place nine of these in these communities anyway, and I believe it's wrong and enough is enough," Jacob said.
Harutunian said he wanted to take time to consider the options for placement and would render a written decision on the matter at a later time.
Mary Taylor, a victim of sexually violent predator Alvin Ray Quarles, also known as the "Bolder-Than-Most" rapist, said she felt the decision to release James without notifying his victims should be considered a violation of the California Victims' Bill of Rights, otherwise known as Marsy's Law.
State law only requires victims be notified when hearings regarding placement are held, not for proceedings considering a potential conditional release.
Quarles recently was recommended for placement into a conditional release program at a facility in Jacumba Hot Springs, but the decision to release him will be reconsidered during an evidentiary hearing tentatively slated to begin in May.