SAN DIEGO — A convicted sex offender will be released from a state hospital and placed at a sheriff’s facility in Jacumba Hot Springs, where he will continue treatment in a conditional release program, a San Diego judge ruled Monday.
Alan Earl James, 56, was convicted in 1981 and 1986 of numerous sex- related felonies involving several minor victims — who included younger family members — 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.
By April 25, James will be placed at 45612 Old Highway 80 in Jacumba Hot Springs, a property under the jurisdiction of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. The property previously housed sexually violent predators and is staffed by sheriff’s deputies.
Placement at the facility was proposed by the California Department of State Hospitals. 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 — ruled that the Jacumba Hot Springs facility meets the criteria for placement.
James’ impending release was met with opposition last week during another hearing in Harutunian’s courtroom, which drew a crowd that included his former victims, county Supervisor Dianne Jacob and members of the community.
Harutunian told attendees that he understood their 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.
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 4 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,” she said. “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.”
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.