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Judge rules against release of sexually violent predator into Joshua Tree
Ventura County Judge Nancy Ayers ruled today against the release of Sexually Violent Predator Ross Wollschlager into the unincorporated community of Joshua Tree. Last month, Judge Ayers proposed releasing Ventura County resident Wollschlager into San Bernardino County, sparking massive opposition from the community and elected officials. San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe attended the hearing and spoke in opposition to Wollschlager’s proposed placement.
“I must commend Judge Ayers for listening to my concerns and those of the local residents who would’ve been impacted by this predator’s release,” said Rowe. “Because of the efforts of Sheriff John McMahon, District Attorney Jason Anderson, and the hundreds of residents who attended the community meeting last month, we were able to stand against this injustice. I’m proud of what we accomplished here today,” added Rowe.
The Board of Supervisors on Oct. 22 unanimously adopted a resolution opposing Wollschlager’s release into San Bernardino County.
Wollschlager, a convicted rapist and child molester, was scheduled to be released from the custody of the State Department of Hospitals under a program known as Conditional Release. Unable to find a landlord willing to house him in Ventura County, Judge Ayers ordered the state to look at other housing options, which included San Bernardino County.
However, following public comment at the hearing on Thursday, Judge Ayers reversed her decision citing concerns with the threat Wollschlager would pose to Joshua Tree National Park’s three million annual visitors, the number of vulnerable residents living in close proximity, and the long response times for law enforcement calls for service in the Morongo Basin.
“The judge’s ruling demonstrates that when a community bands together over a common cause, we can make a difference. Because we had so many community members and elected leaders who were willing to stand up and fight for what is right, Joshua Tree residents won’t have to live in fear for their safety. I’d also like to highlight the efforts of Deputy District Attorneys Maureen O’Connell and Dan Ross, and the deputies from the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station for their work to make the public aware of Wollschlager’s proposed placement,” state Rowe.