A self-described pedophile freed this month after being confined for two decades in a state mental hospital, and whose whereabouts Orange County authorities have assiduously tracked in recent days, will be forced by the state to register as a sex offender, authorities said late Friday.
The decision from state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office followed efforts by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to dig up Cary Jay Smith’s previous convictions of child sex crimes from the 1980s.
In 1984, Smith pleaded guilty to a 1983 misdemeanor of annoying or molesting a child, prosecutors said. Then again, in 1985, Smith pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of soliciting lewd conduct from a minor.
Both convictions required Smith to register as a sex offender for life.
However, to the confusion of law enforcement officials and outrage of some Southern California residents, when Smith was released from Coalinga State Hospital after July 11, he was not required to register as a sex offender.
Due to health care privacy laws, the terms of Smith’s release remained hazy, sparking outrage from some residents fearful that he might decide to take up permanent residence in their neighborhoods. One online petition, which demanded Smith’s name be added to the sex offender registry, garnered more than 38,000 signatures.
After District Attorney Todd Spitzer and Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel raised concerns about Smith in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office on July 14, prosecutors began digging.
They found that in 2005, a change in the statute removed the 1985 sex offender registration requirement for Smith. However, prosecutors also found that Smith should still been required to register as a sex offender based on the previous conviction from 1984.
The Attorney General’s office did their own research into the case, and in a notice sent to the DA’s office Friday evening, said they agreed with the findings or prosecutors, sparking Friday’s renewed requirement for Smith.
Why the 1984 requirement did not stick when Smith was released this month remains a mystery, the District Attorney’s office said in a statement Friday.
The DA’s office is working with law enforcement agencies to serve Smith, notifying him that he must register as a sex offender.
Smith, who spent the last several weeks under constant law enforcement surveillance as he moved throughout Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties, was last seen at a health care facility in Costa Mesa Friday afternoon.
The surveillance of Smith was decried by some defense attorneys as a violation of his privacy rights, while some characterized law enforcement’s behavior as threatening.
Amid extensive news coverage of Smith’s whereabouts, including stories from the Orange County Register and other Southern California media outlets, a media expert also challenged journalists to be balanced and fair to Smith’s rights.
“At some point, journalists can become complicit in his harassment,” said Jason Shepard, chair of communications at Cal State Fullerton.
It was not immediately clear how Smith’s renewed registration as a sex offender will affect police surveillance of Smith.
If Smith does not find a home and maintains his transitory living conditions, he would be required to register every 30 days with a local police agency on where he’s staying, said Kimberly Edds, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s office.
Prior to his release on July 11, Smith had spent the previous 20 years locked up at Coalinga State Hospital and before that, at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino County. In 1999, his then-wife gave authorities a letter Smith wrote about his desire to kidnap and molest a 7-year-old boy in his Costa Mesa neighborhood.
The incident landed Smith at Patton. Though he was he was not convicted of a crime for the 1999 incident, he was locked up under a rarely applied state law that allowed authorities to hold people, who are established to be dangerous and have a mental defect or disorder, in a hospital if a court agrees every six months.
Since then, a judge or jury repeatedly deemed him too dangerous to be released to the public.
In the past, Smith admitted to fantasizing about molesting boys and disclosed he’d written letters about having sex with and torturing minors. He referred to himself as “Mr. RTK”, an acronym for rape, torture and kill.
Source: Orange County Register