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SAN JOSE — Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Robert Baines ordered the release Thursday of sex offender Brian DeVries, saying further delays would violate his constitutional rights. “I’ve given as much time as I can in good conscience,” Baines said. “We have now reached the point where further involuntary incarceration becomes illegal.” Because the state Department of Health hasn’t been able to secure housing, Baines ordered DeVries released into the custody of his father in Washington state, where he will be electronically monitored and treated on an outpatient basis. He’ll be the first man released under the Sexually Violent Predator Act, a 1996 California law that allows sex offenders who have served their prison sentences to be confined for treatment. DeVries, who has admitted to molesting as many as 50 children, has been at Atascadero State Hospital since 1997 and was voluntarily castrated two years ago. Baines first ordered DeVries released in February, after doctors testified that he had successfully completed the treatment required for supervised release. But the state Department of Mental Health has opposed a release, saying it can’t find housing for him in Santa Clara County. In a statement, Gov. Gray Davis said he “strongly opposed” release and called upon the Legislature to tighten the law’s requirements. “Sexually violent predators like DeVries should never be in our neighborhoods again if they are a continued threat to our society and require extraordinary costs and measures to protect the community,” Davis said. Davis had written to Baines in March to oppose release. Baines, who has applied to the governor for a seat on the Sixth District Court of Appeal, said in an earlier interview that the governor’s views wouldn’t influence his decision. Baines read a list of conditions for DeVries’ release, including calling California mental health authorities every day, attending therapy, monitoring levels of testosterone, allowing police searches and returning to California in 60 days for a progress hearing. Deputy Attorney General Susan King, who represents the Department of Health, objected to the release, saying there are no programs in place in Washington state. “Frankly, I almost think it’s tantamount to letting him out without conditions,” said King, adding that the Washington release puts additional financial burdens on California. But Baines said the Department of Mental Health has indicated it will contract out treatment services in California, which it can do just as readily in Washington. “I expect the state to be creative and move quickly,” said Baines, noting that the state should continue its search for housing. The Santa Clara district attorney’s office, which was not fighting conditional release, agreed with Baines. “Given the state’s inability to find housing, the people agree with the court this is the only viable option at this time,” said Deputy DA Dana Overstreet. “We do not believe it’s anywhere close to an unconditional release.” The lawyers will meet in court July 25 to go over the conditions of release. Baines indicated in court that DeVries will live with his father for two weeks and then move into a separate house owned by the family. Reporter Shannon Lafferty’s e-mail address is [email protected].

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