By G. T. Houts
San Bernardino, CA – A 67-year-old violent sexual predator won’t be relocated at this time to San Bernardino County from the San Francisco Bay Area due to the efforts of District Attorney Michael Ramos and prosecutors.
A news release from Ramos’ office indicated that for the past six months, prosecutors from the Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) and Appellate Services Unit have lobbied against placing Luther Benjamin Evans in San Bernardino County.
“San Bernardino County will not be used as a dumping ground for sexually violent predators,” Ramos stated.
PROPOSED RELEASE AREAS
The District Attorney’s office reports that in the Evans case, the proposed area of release included the communities of Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley and Morongo, as well as neighboring communities of the Morongo Basin.
“So far,” Ramos emphasized, “we have extended every resource at our disposal to stop this predator from entering our community.”
In October 2003, Evans was committed as a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) by the San Francisco Superior Court pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600.2. His commitment followed a 1976 criminal conviction for Residential Burglary, Rape and Assault with Intent to Commit Rape, and a second Rape in 1980. He further committed a Sexual Battery while attempting Rape in 1991. According to court records, Evans presented as a “wanton” and “lawless” psychopath.
In August 2015, Evans petitioned the court for conditional release, indicating that San Francisco was both his county of residence and his county of commitment. In November 2015, the court granted Evans’s petition, nominally releasing him to outpatient treatment. The SVP law required that Evans be placed in San Francisco County where he committed his crimes, unless it could find extraordinary circumstances, requiring specific notice to the county where he would be released.
Over the course of the next six months, Liberty Health Care (who was responsible for overseeing the placement) told the San Francisco court that it was unable to find a location in the nine Bay-area counties. Liberty indicated it was similarly unsuccessful when the search was expanded east of Santa Clara County and north to the state line. On May 18, the involved parties and Liberty appeared before the court in San Francisco and a proposed address of placement in San Bernardino County was presented.
OPPOSITION BRIEFS FILED
Upon receiving notice of the proposed placement, members of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office SVP and Appellate Services Units filed multiple opposition briefs and appeared on behalf of the citizens of San Bernardino County in San Francisco Superior Court to successfully halt the release at this time.
During this process, SVP prosecutor Maureen R. O’ Connell discovered that the San Francisco Court had never actually had a hearing in which Evans received a civil commitment to the State Mental Hospital as a sexually violent predator, a prerequisite to any outpatient release and supervision.
“As a result of this discovery, the applicable law provided to the court and our arguments, the San Francisco Superior Court rescinded the outpatient placement order and set the case for trial to determine whether Mr. Evans remained a Sexually Violent Predator, subject to placement at the State Hospital,” O’Connell said.
“While California law permits a court to place an SVP in a remote location that has no connection to that individual, it was important for our office to ensure our citizens had a voice before the San Francisco court,” according to Supervising Deputy District Attorney Robert Brown, who participated in the San Francisco litigation.
“When the safety of the community could be placed at risk, we felt it was important to do all that we could to argue against the placement,” Brown concluded.