Documents question release of sexually violent predator Matthew Hedge

Hedge's whereabouts unknown

SAN DIEGO -  

Court documents filed in the Matthew Hedge case show the decision to release him from the state's sexually violent predator program may not have been a unanimous one.
 
Hedge was convicted of sexually assaulting two boys and two girls, and spent time both in prison and in a state mental facility.
 
A quarterly progress report filed by Liberty Healthcare, the agency under contract with the California Department of Mental Health that treats the state's violent sexual predators, notes that while Hedge has shown success in their program, he may not be ready for release into the general public.
 
J. David Forester wrote: "The serious nature of Mr. Hedge's offense history, some remaining treatment issues, the past violation of his court orders, while minor, and his short duration of offense-free time in the community merit continued treatment with supervision. Therefore, I conclude that Mr. Hedge by reason of his diagnosed mental disorder represents a danger to the community in that it is likely he will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior without continued treatment and supervision. However, it is believed he is not a danger to the health and safety of others in that he is not likely to engage in sexually violent criminal behavior due to his diagnosed mental disorder while under supervision and treatment in the community." 
 
Less than two months later, Hedge was unconditionally released from the program. He is not required to undergo any further treatment and is free to go wherever he wants. The GPS tracking bracelet he wore around his ankle was cut off and he was allowed to leave the trailer where he'd been living on the grounds of Donavan State Prison.
 
His whereabouts are unknown, although the Liberty Healthcare document stated his wife moved into an El Cajon trailer home in July and that "Hedge is in the process of meeting the other residents in the hope of building relationships before they learn his status." 
 
The document also reveals that Hedge worked as a "secret shopper" in recent months, writing reviews of businesses and products online, and that he had delivered hundreds of brochures for the Diabetes Association and a cancer foundation.
 
Hedge earned an associate degree in psychology that he hoped would lead to a job as a substance abuse counselor. 
 
"He was informed that the possibility of employment as a drug counselor is limited due to his criminal convictions," according to the documents.
 
Although Hedge is no longer considered a sexually violent predator by law, he is still required to register as a sex offender. 
 
He has until Friday, October 5, to give the San Diego County Sheriff's Department his new address. They will then notify neighbors that he's in their area.
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