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Orange County leaders issue public warning, call on governor to halt possible release of sex offender from mental hospital

Orange County leaders issued a public warning Tuesday regarding the possible release of a sex offender who has spent more than two decades in a state mental hospital.

County officials are also requesting that Gov. Gavin Newsom intervene and block the release of 59-year-old Cary Jay Smith, an admitted pedophile whose forced hospitalization was expected to end Tuesday, and who they believe is likely to return to Orange County.

In a letter to the governor, District Attorney Todd Spitzer and Supervisor Michelle Steel raised concerns that Smith has not learned “concrete skills to manage his deviant sexual impulses should he find himself in a high-risk situation,” and noted that he may not currently be required to register as a sex offender.

“We are concerned that Mr. Smith poses a threat to our community and we ask for your assistance in re-assessing his mental health hold and in reviewing his requirement to register as a sex offender,” Spitzer and Steel wrote.

Smith was turned over to the state’s custody in 1999, when his then-wife gave authorities a letter Smith wrote about his urge to kidnap and molest a 7-year-old boy in his Costa Mesa neighborhood.

He was not charged with a crime in connection with the letter, but was instead committed to a mental hospital.

Since then, Smith has had the opportunity every six months to argue for his freedom in court. In turn, hospital and medical officials, along with county attorneys, have continually sought to keep Smith locked up.

During past hearings, Smith has openly admitted his fantasies about molesting young boys.

In at least one instance he admitted to writing poems and letters about having sex with and torturing minors, and said he referred to himself in the third person as “Mr. RTK,” an acronym he said stood for rape, torture and kill. At one point he also admitted to writing in a letter to a hospital psychologist that “I’m a pedophile and I always will be… I’ll always be addicted to little boys. That will never change and I don’t want it to.”

In previous court hearings, psychologists have testified that Smith poses an imminent danger to society due to his fantasies about harming children. In the letter to the governor, Spitzer and Steel noted that Smith once testified that the only way to keep children safe if he is released from the hospital would be “to cut off his hands and his penis.”

In earlier hearings, court-appointed attorneys have argued that Smith has learned to suppress his fantasies at all costs, and contended that he would have a number of reasons – including fear of being ostracized, regaining his family and being able to have some semblance of a normal life – not to re-offend.

The state hospital did not send county attorneys a petition to renew the mental health hold against Smith before it expired on Saturday, local officials said.

It isn’t clear if psychologists for the state hospital system have changed their opinion regarding whether Smith poses a danger to society. Due to health privacy regulations, officials say they are limited in what they can say regarding the circumstances of Smith’s expected release.

Smith reportedly has at least one criminal conviction in his past, for allegedly paying a young boy $1 to run through sprinklers in the nude, according to news accounts related to the 1983 criminal case.

Orange County officials say they expect Smith to return to Orange County, since he used to live in the area and has unspecified ties there. Steel described the release of Smith into the community as “unconscionable,” while Spitzer indicated that law enforcement would do “everything we can to prevent another child from being harmed.”

Last week, Lynn Rinner, the mother of the 7-year-old who was the subject of Smith’s 1999 letter, said she was surprised by news of Smith’s possible release, and worried for other children who could come in contact with him.

Source: Orange County Register

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