(FOX40.COM) — A Placer County Superior Court judge decided on Friday during a public hearing to deny the request for the immediate release of sexually violent predator (SVP) William Stephenson into a motel.
During the hearing, the judge stated that he read and considered Placer County’s District Attorney’s opposition, which included over 250 letters of opposition submitted by members of the community. He later addressed the audience and thanked them for making their voice heard in the process. Over 3,500 residents signed a petition opposing the transient release of Stephenson.
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Placer County Supervisors Bonnie Gore and Suzanne Jones, Placer County Counsel, and Crime Victims United also addressed the court on behalf of residents and victims of crime.
The judge emphasized the importance of community participation and understanding of the SVP process, and said the SVP law prioritizes public safety in the court’s decision-making process.
The judge said that before he would authorize any release of Stephenson, he needed to have all necessary details regarding the release plan from the Department of State Hospitals, which is responsible for his placement. He also asked for assurance that the public would have full access to the process citing that that was the only way to evaluate if the conditions proposed for release are adequate to protect public safety.
The next court date for Stephenson will be a status review hearing at 1 p.m. on Sept. 20 in Department 42 of the Placer County Superior Court. The court will not take any action at the next hearing but will request a status update from all parties involved in Stephenson’s placement.
The judge also asked the Department of State Hospitals to hold more community housing meetings. Those meeting dates have yet to be determined, however, residents interested in staying up to date on this case can sign up for the case portal at www.placer.ca.gov/SVP.