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SAN JOSE — Serial child molester Brian DeVries admits he molested 50 children and says he could molest again. But four mental health experts — all witnesses for the prosecution — agreed that DeVries should be released into the San Jose population after multiple prison sentences and seven years at Atascadero State Hospital. Today, the tough question of whether DeVries will walk free drops into the lap of Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Robert Baines. In early hearings Baines has said he believes DeVries is “hard-wired” to molest and that castration, which DeVries has undergone, was no “magic bullet” to prevent relapses. If released, DeVries is poised to become the first sex offender in California to walk free after meeting terms of the Sexually Violent Predator Act. The 1996 California law allows prosecutors to indefinitely lock up violent rapists and child molesters after they serve their criminal sentences. DeVries could be released as early as March 17. Judge Baines faces a tangle of legal questions about the predator statute. Defense attorneys contend the law doesn’t seem constitutional because it allows prosecutors to keep dangerous sex criminals locked up until they have completed a four-step treatment program. But DAs must prove their case for continued incarceration to a jury or a judge every two years. It’s the second recent high-profile Bay Area case involving the predator law. Contra Costa Superior Court Judge John Minney in February agreed to release sex offender Cary Verse, despite protests from the East Bay prosecutor and the California Department of Mental Health. The earliest Verse could go free is May. Santa Clara Deputy DA Dana Overstreet, who has worked to keep DeVries in Atascadero, acknowledges DeVries has met the treatment criteria for release under the statute. “I have some grave concerns about his release into the community,” Overstreet said. “But by the same token, he has completed everything the state has asked him. Legally he is entitled to the conditional release, although I don’t advocate it. “There has been a lot of testimony, and I am just going to let the judge review all the testimony,” Overstreet said. “He’s admitted he will likely reoffend” if left untreated. DeVries, 44, has been convicted of molesting nine children in numerous states including Florida, New Jersey and California starting in 1978. DeVries was last convicted in 1994 of molesting an 8-year-old San Jose boy. After serving his prison term, the Santa Clara DA had DeVries committed to Atascadero in 1997. Overstreet said DeVries did not fight the initial commitment. Under the law, DeVries was entitled to a jury trial to reexamine his commitment in 1999. But he waived that trial and continued to be treated. When DeVries’ commitment was up again in 2001, he volunteered to be castrated, said he had completed treatment and asked to be released. Six doctors — four called by the prosecution and two called by the defense — testified about DeVries’ condition, and all agreed he should be released. “Our witnesses did say he should be conditionally released and that he can be treated in the community,” Overstreet said. “But they still say he is a danger in that he is likely to reoffend again. . . . There is really no legal argument based on the evidence that we the people have to prevent a conditional release. We have not been able to put forth any evidence to refute his request.” If released, DeVries will be electronically monitored by a global positioning device and will be watched by San Jose police. He will have curfews and will continue to be treated, with the Department of Mental Health coordinating his living arrangement, Overstreet said. “There has been absolutely no evidence from every expert that has testified that his request should not be granted,” Overstreet said. “I don’t know what the judge is going to do.”

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