A convicted sex offender, who was recently released after spending about 20 years in a state mental health hospital, has taken up residence in a halfway house for the mentally ill in Orange, police said Friday.
Cary Jay Smith, 59, who was released from Coalinga State Hospital on Tuesday, stayed in Los Angeles for one night before making his way to Orange, where he checked into an Adult Residential Facility near Tustin Street and Chapman Avenue about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, said Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer and Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel issued a news release about Smith earlier this week and sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for help researching why Smith was no longer required to register as a sex offender despite a conviction and requirement to do so in 1985.
Newsom’s office referred questions to the Department of State Hospitals. Ken August of the Department of State Hospitals said state and federal privacy laws prohibited the department from commenting.
Smith has relatives who live in Orange, but is not staying with them, McMullin said.
“He is not under lock and key,” McMullin said of the facility. “He is free to come and go as he pleases.”
Smith appeared to be “very mild and passive” when McMullin spoke with him last night.
State and Orange County Health Care Agency officials referred Smith to the facility. Police warned the administrator of the facility about Smith’s past, but he was accepted.
Police are keeping an eye on Smith and will attempt to have him relocated, McMullin said.
Residents were warned to not contact, confront or “attempt to apprehend” Smith, who is not wanted for any crime and is not on probation or parole and does not have to register as a sex offender, McMullin said.
Smith pleaded guilty in 1985 to a misdemeanor sex offense against a child, requiring him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Spitzer said.
But in 2005, that requirement was lifted for an unknown reason, Spitzer said.
“We need to look into this and know why he is no longer a lifetime 290,” Spitzer said, referring to the code in the law that requires sex offenders to register with authorities so they can be tracked.
“We believe he is a lifetime registrant,” Spitzer said.
In 2002, prosecutors attempted to charge Smith with sexual assaults on a 13-year-old, but the case was thrown out because of an issue with the statute of limitations, Spitzer said.
Smith was committed to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino in 1999 on a psychological hold when his wife gave a psychiatrist a letter her husband wrote that described sex acts he fantasized about on a 7-year-old boy in his neighborhood in Costa Mesa, according to prosecutors.
The state kept him locked up in a state hospital under a civil commitment that concluded he was a danger to children, according to prosecutors. Under that law, he had the opportunity to seek release in a trial every six months.
But during the hearings he has testified that he continues to fantasize about sexually assaulting and killing young boys, prosecutors said.
“He calls himself Mr. RTK,” which stands for Rape, Torture, Kill, Spitzer said. “That’s what I think has kept him in. He says, `If you don’t cut off my penis and hands I will molest again.’ “
Spitzer said he has no real connection to the case because it was a civil commitment, but wanted to warn the public about the potential danger.
“It’s just really upsetting and aggravating to me that one of the governor’s departments released a guy who is such an aberration and outlier and it doesn’t advise the public,” Spitzer said.
“That’s crazy to me. So the only thing I can do under the law is warn people and get his picture out there and build awareness of him, but I can’t do much else.”
It was the county counsel’s office that had the authority to object to Smith’s release, but it was apparently not notified this time and the hold on him expired on Saturday, Steel and Spitzer said in their letter to Newsom.
Spitzer said his office has been in touch with the state Attorney General’s Office to determine why the sex offender registration requirement was lifted and whether it can be reinstated.