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September 20, 2014

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California judge says serial rapist to be released

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This undated file image provided by the Department of Justice shows convicted serial rapist Christopher Hubbart.

LOS ANGELES — The so-called "Pillowcase Rapist" who attacked at least 40 women in the 1970s and 1980s will be freed and allowed to live in a remote Southern California desert area despite a host of vocal protests, a judge ordered Friday.

Christopher Evans Hubbart, 63, must be released from a state facility by July 7, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Gilbert Brown ruled.

Hubbart will be permitted to rent a small house near Palmdale, some 45 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

"Now we are preparing for his arrival," said District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who spent months fighting Hubbart's release. "We will do everything within our authority to protect the residents of Los Angeles County from this dangerous predator."

Hubbart will wear a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week GPS monitor on his ankle and will be accompanied by security people every time he goes out in public for the first six months to a year of his release, Lacey said. He will be transported to therapy sessions twice a week.

The judge's decision comes two days after a daylong hearing in Northern California, where Brown heard passionate objections from residents, many of whom drove 350 miles to attend.

Brown said he received an enormous outpouring of emails, petitions, cards, letters and postings on a website set up by Lacey for public comment.

Hubbart has acknowledged raping and assaulting about 40 women between 1971 and 1982, when he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. He got his nickname by using a pillowcase to muffle the screams of some victims.

He was paroled in 1990, but arrested in a new attack just two months later and returned to prison until 1996.

When his term ended, he was deemed a sexually violent predator and confined to a state mental hospital. Doctors at the hospital recently concluded he was fit for release, but few options were available. California laws bar sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and other places where children congregate, eliminating nearly all urban areas in the state.

Cheryl Holbrook, a resident of the area who belongs to a community group created to fight Hubbart's release, said there are plans to protest at his new home.

Holbrook said she was shaking because of the news, which she said was made worse by memories of being raped as a 14-year-old by two men at knifepoint and impregnated.

"I think it's wrong," Holbrook said. "When this guy commits another crime, the blood's going to be on that judge's shoulders."

Associated Press writer Tami Abdollah contributed to this story.

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