Placer County Superior Court urged to reconsider
Auburn, Calif. – The upcoming release of a sexually violent predator into a transient placement in Placer County has prompted the Board of Supervisors to send a letter of opposition to the Placer County Superior Court.
The opposition letter, approved by the board today, urges the Placer County Superior Court to reconsider allowing the release of sexually violent predator William Stephenson without first identifying housing so that he can be properly monitored.
The court’s ruling July 17, 2023, granted Stephenson conditional transient release and since then the county has been overwhelmed with residents expressing concern over the transient status, which means Stephenson could be released into an RV or motel room.
Inability to properly monitor
“I know I speak for the entire board when I say we strongly oppose the release of a sexually violent predator into a transient setting in Placer County,” said Board Chair and District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes.
“We want to make sure Stephenson is properly monitored and there’s simply no way to do this if he is allowed to be released into a transient setting.”Jim Holmes, District 3 Supervisor
District 1 Supervisor Bonnie Gore shared that Stephenson had been released into her neighborhood in 2014 and all of the residents were aware of his status as a sexual predator.
“Every resident in our neighborhood knew who he was and what he had done in his past. We had to keep an eye on him to make sure nothing happened in our neighborhood. We were aware of his presence. Releasing him with a transient status is unacceptable.”Bonnie Gore, District 1 Supervisor
The Department of State Hospitals and its private contractor Liberty Healthcare are the responsible parties for finding adequate housing for Stephenson. The state held a public meeting Aug. 21 to take public input on the transient release. The county chose to hold the meeting locally but the DSH attended virtually from its office in Sacramento.
“I believe the state attempted to set the county up for failure but we defied the odds,” said Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire. “The Monday morning placement meeting hosted by DSH was rigidly scheduled despite our objections but more than 125 community members still attended and submitted over 250 letters opposing the release.”
Gire reported to the board that since the state hearing there have been approximately 10,000 views of the meeting online and more than 5,000 views of the ensuing press conference.
The DSH was supposed to have provided the District Attorney’s Office with an address for Stephenson’s housing 30 days ago to allow for proper vetting of the location but Gire maintains no address has been forthcoming to the public.
Update to Placer BOS
Two doctors and the superior court judge have determined that Stephenson should be released and Gire told the board that release is legally imminent unless circumstances changed.
“What we can do is make sure he is released under circumstances that guarantee the public’s safety,” said Gire. “And what we do know is that sexually violent predators who are released into transient settings are 50% more likely to fail.”
Public may attend
The public is allowed to attend the superior court proceeding Sept. 1 at 8:30 a.m. but public comment will not likely be allowed. The community’s voice will be shared by the District Attorney’s Office. through the numerous letters that have been submitted by concerned residents. The courthouse is located in the Bill Santucci Justice Center at 10820 Justice Center Drive in Roseville and will be in Department 31.
Gire told the board he plans to request the judge stop the transient release until the DSH and Liberty Healthcare find reasonable housing that will allow for a security plan to be put in place. Gire contends that DSH and Liberty Healthcare have not been forthcoming with their process, have failed to find secure housing after 560 days and are in violation of their 30-day notice requirements for locations.
Watch Gire’s update to the board above. Residents can stay up to date through the District Attorney’s Office Case Portal at www.placer.ca.gov/SVP