Orange County DA Warns of Sex Offender’s Release

July 16, 2020 Updated: July 16, 2020

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS)—A convicted sex offender, who has been committed to a state mental health hospital for 20 years, has been released and appears to have made his way back to Orange County on July 15, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.

Cary Jay Smith, 59, was released from Coalinga State Hospital on July 14, Spitzer said.

“We were told he spent the night somewhere in Los Angeles County,” Spitzer said.

Then Smith got picked up by his siblings and was brought to stay in Orange County, Spitzer said. Smith’s parents, whom he previously lived with in Costa Mesa, have died, Spitzer said.

Spitzer’s investigators are attempting to find out why Smith was released and why he no longer is required to register as a sex offender.

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.

Spitzer and Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 14 inquiring about the case.

“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 since 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 July 11, 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.

There has not been a response to messages left since July 14 with Newsom’s press office.