By High Desert resident Carmen Scherubel
Christopher Hubbart has become the name everyone loves to hate. The once-quiet, bedroom community of Lake Los Angeles is now peppered with rapist signs. Daily “peaceful” protests at the property include people with bull horns, revving motorcycles, people shouting messages of hate, and those who decorate the fence line with garbage, hate signs and pillowcases. Some people are there past midnight shining their headlights into the windows and honking their horns. Most of these things are done by rational, well-meaning people. Threats to the guards and Mr. Hubbart are fueled daily by this unrest. The only one sitting quietly by is Mr. Hubbart. His Constitutional Rights are violated on a daily basis and he does not have one complaint. This has truly brought out the best and the worst in the Community.
I have been involved in this since almost the beginning. I was part of the mission to keep him OUT. I wrote the letter that over 12,000 people signed. I researched myself blue in the face for months to find any legal way to prevent the placement. During the process, I learned what is and isn’t possible, what will and won’t happen, and WHY. There is so much the Community does not understand about the Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) program, what Liberty Healthcare’s role in it is and who these people are who participate in the program. In retrospect, I would have done many things differently had I known then what I know now.
Here is a quick primer: The SVP Act was enacted to keep dangerous, repeat sexual offenders off the street. These people have completed their sentences, are subsequently labeled SVPs through a legal process, and are then subject to temporary civil commitment through the Department of State Hospitals.
Once committed, these patients have the option to go through an intensive treatment program designed specifically for sex offenders. It is not a one-size-fits-all program. Approximately 90% of the patients OPT OUT of the treatment program as it is quicker and easier to be released. Also, this program requires total, verifiable honesty. If crimes have been committed and were unreported, they can be held to answer for them. The 90% are eventually released without conditions. No parole, no treatment, no GPS, no supervision….just OUT.
About the remaining 10%: These are the people who have an earnest commitment to change their behavior. It is this very small group of people who are managed by Liberty Healthcare in the Conditional Release Program (CONREP). Their voluntary participation can add many years to their commitment and also makes it very difficult to be released as they are held to a high standard. These are the few people who wanted to help themselves and agreed to a longer commitment; and a controlled, supervised reintegration following the years-long inpatient phase. THESE are the patients who are being placed into the community. Christopher Hubbart is one of the few who requested treatment and followed through.
Liberty Healthcare manages the CONREP program for the State. This is the outpatient phase of the patient’s treatment and is designed to reintegrate them into society slowly and safely while in an extremely controlled environment outside the State Hospital. Since 2003, Liberty Healthcare has been the CONREP supervision program for SVPs in California. They have a 100% success rate, verifiable by court records. Not one of their CONREP participants has ever committed a crime while in the program. A few have been returned to the State Hospital due to infractions in their contract, however not once for any criminal behavior. None have ever removed or attempted to remove their GPS units.
Meeting with Christopher Hubbart
Now that I more completely understand the program, the next step was to find alternatives to protesting something that can’t be altered. Part of this had to be meeting with Christopher Hubbart, the man I most feared, to ask him what his intentions were. I don’t know the Christopher Hubbart from over two decades ago, just what I have read including all the exaggerations (over 100 victims) and sensationalism. I went through the process to be able to meet with him. I am so glad I did that. It was important for me to have a complete perspective. I now know who he is today and how committed he is to his program. He has a faith in God as well as a meditation and prayer practice. He listens to his iPod a good portion of the day, and keeps himself busy by cleaning his house, journaling and painting. He is very close to his doctors and talks to them very regularly.
The guards say he is one of the nicest patients they’ve had. His care team is his lifeline and he is very appreciative of each one of them. He looks forward to each day as his new chance at living a productive life and being in harmony with those in it. More than anything, he doesn’t want people to live in fear of him. He is extremely cognizant of why people do fear him and he understands why the protestors are out there. He holds no animosity toward anyone. There will be some that won’t ever trust or accept him. His hope is that, in time, he can prove to be the exception—the one who did keep his promises and also one who can give hope to others who are trying hard to change their lives as well.
My impression is that Chris is completely sincere and I feel that with absolute certainty. He is very soft spoken, has a genuine smile and was very pleased that his first visit with someone outside his care team was a positive experience. I brought him a small painting that he’d done many years ago. It had been in his mother’s home and was sold in her estate sale not too long ago. I wish you could have seen the look on his face. He lost his mother just over a year ago and it was something sentimental that he painted for her. He showed me the paintings he brought along with him to Lake Los Angeles and also some that are in progress. They are extraordinary, scenic watercolors. He answered all my questions openly and candidly. He was happy to answer my questions and never hesitated. We had a long conversation and I walked away feeling very encouraged for him and also for those who have yet to consider an alternative to fear and judgment.
Chris wrote a humble and heartfelt letter to the community and it is waiting for the doctor’s approval before it can be released. Since there is so much unrest within the community, the doctors are hesitant to allow it. Chris wishes it could have gone out two weeks ago, but that was not possible. Some day when things calm down, you will read it. He read it aloud to me.
Chris wants to spend the rest of his life helping where ever he can, continuing to paint, and learn to fly fish one day. He wants to live productively and give back to the community that is now his home. He is grateful to be here and loves the extraordinarily beautiful desert vistas. He truly wants to meet people but his supervisor and doctors are being very selective.
We all have a stake in Chris’s success
People can and do change. It happens every day with proper care, a sound support system and commitment. It is all about recovery. The shame is that there are 90% who don’t go through treatment since it is easier to get out without it. We have a person living here who knew that but wanted treatment at any cost, even if it meant he never got out. He spent years longer in the hospital than he ever would have had he elected not to do the program. For that, I think we are ultimately as fortunate as he is.
We all have a stake in Chris’s success. Working against his success is akin to putting a noose around the community. Although I have very little doubt that he would be successful even if most everyone completely ignored him, I think the opportunity here is for your Community to ‘own’ this. The Community can be empowered while doing the same for him. The Antelope Valley can be a great model for how this absolutely CAN successfully work.
Chris is participating remotely with a newly-formed community group to look at positive ways to ensure a successful and safe reintegration. One of the ideas at our first meeting was to ask him if he would be willing to hold classes for the residents so they could learn how to stay safe from potential crimes. Although he will not be able do this in the near future, he said he would gladly do something like that as soon as it is approved. He’d probably do it tomorrow if he could. Another idea from the group was for him to work in concert with law enforcement to help them solve crimes or maybe help in catching someone before they strike again. There again, it is something he would be very open to doing. There is within him the sense of obligation to pay back for his transgressions so this is an important part of his continued success in having an honorable life from here forward. Our next meeting is August 13th 10:00 AM at [removed]. We welcome the community to bring their constructive ideas. Subsequent meeting dates and times will be addressed as some may prefer an occasional evening meeting.
Telling Chris to “GO HOME!” is squandering valuable time. He IS home. Time might be better spent working with our legislators to resolve important issues. We should work on things we CAN change.
- It makes no sense to commit someone and release them without treatment. I am no longer worried about the 10%. It is the 90% that should be addressed! Warehousing people without helping them accomplishes WHAT? They have a captive audience!
- Fix Jessica’s Law so there are more places for people to live so the rural areas won’t be a dumping ground. Sex offenders are now allowed in parks so why do they have to live 2000 feet away from one? Pocket parks were created to keep them out but they are now, for all intents and purposes, ineffective. Placements could be made in non-urban areas, 2000 feet from schools, if the law was corrected to cover the recent precedent that was set about parks.
- The sex offender registry needs a complete overhaul.
- Every GPS unit on a violent criminal should be actively monitored like the SVP’s units are.
There are so many constructive things to be accomplished. Take down the rapist signs which are negatively affecting the local economy and inflaming people. Use your bull horns to alter something you have the power to change. Choose your battles wisely. Perhaps if we change ourselves, we can change the world around us. It all starts within each of us. And I believe we can do it.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.
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UPDATED 8/4/14: No Hubbart meeting at local IHOP
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this letter stated that a Hubbart-related meeting would be held at a Palmdale IHOP. This is incorrect, according to IHOP representatives [see letter below].
A letter published in the “Your Issues/Your News” section of the Antelope Valley Times on August 2nd by local resident Carmen Scherubel stated that a meeting would be held on August 13th at 10:00 AM in the back room of the IHOP restaurant located at 2200 E Palmdale Boulevard for the community.
Unfortunately, Ms. Scherubel did not contact our franchisee who owns and operates this restaurant or try to reserve the side room prior to releasing this information. Our franchisee has informed us that they cannot accommodate this meeting due to a very limited seating capacity of the side room which is not equipped to handle a large gathering.
Additionally, the restaurant is not operationally equipped to handle the potentially large crowd that may result from this having been announced in a public forum with a sizeable readership.
Therefore, our franchisee must decline participation in this meeting and respectfully advises Ms. Scherubel to find a more suitable venue.
Craig M. Hoffman
Senior Manager, External Communications
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