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California Sexual Predator Unconditionally Released

California's first "graduate" of the state's sexually violent predator (SVP) program, who was released in August, 2003 to highly supervised conditions while living in a trailer on the grounds of Soledad State Prison, was granted unconditional release by a state judge in San Jose, California on Sept. 13, 2004.

Brian DeVries, 45, is a habitual child molester who admits to having victimized 30 children and was convicted of assaulting nine small boys for which he did time in New Hampshire, Florida and California between 1978 and 1997. When released from New Hampshire, he amazingly was hired at the YMCA and as a teacher at elementary schools in Florida where he next offended. Today he reflects back on surrounding himself then with children as being "like an alcoholic trying to be a bartender." After molesting an eight year-old boy in California, he tried to shoot himself. Upon paroling in California in 1997, he was civilly committed as an SVP for treatment at Atascadero State Hospital.

In August, 2003, he was conditionally released from Atascadero, but no one wanted him around. After attempting 116 possible placements amid much public outcry, the state gave up and housed him on prison property near Salinas, California. (See: PLN , Feb. 2004, p.18, California Has Difficulty Placing First Released Sexually Violent Predator.)

After one year of being hounded by the media, ostracized by local townsfolk and tracked by a Global Positioning System monitor, DeVries asked the court to declare him not a risk and to release him from supervision. DeVries' attorney, Public Defender Brian Matthews, argued that his client, with seven years of therapy, drug testing and voluntary surgical and chemical castration, "is a different person now" and deserved to be released.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Robert Baines, after evaluating voluminous evidence, evaluations, and two disagreeing expert opinions, granted Matthews' motion for release. DeVries was picked up at the courthouse by his parents who offered him a place to live on their property near Shelton (Mason County), Washington, to the chagrin of then Washington Governor Gary Locke. "California has abandoned th[e] fundamental responsibility to monitor Mr. DeVries," Locke complained. Two days later, temporarily living at his father's home in Olympia, DeVries registered as a sex offender (as he must for life) with the Thurston County sheriff. When finally settled, DeVries plans on running a jewelry business he started with a longtime friend.

Judge Baines admonished DeVries upon ordering his release "Good luck, Mr. DeVries, and for God's sake, don't prove me wrong."

Sources: Los Angeles Times; Seattle Post-Intelligencer; San Jose Mercury News .

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