AUCKLAND. An Alameda County judge ruled that a 63-year-old man who has been charged with rape on multiple occasions qualifies as a sexual assault predator – a rarely mentioned legal opinion that allows a man to be admitted to hospital indefinitely.
In a late September ruling, High Court Justice Andrew Steckler ruled Howard Sipe was a sexual predator and should be returned to Coaling State Hospital, where he has been since 2010. Sype will appeal the decision, and the process began last week. when he was appointed attorney, according to the minutes.
Saipe was repeatedly tried for sexual harassment, mostly in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including in cases where he lured women into his car and beat them up when they tried to fight back his sexual harassment. In one incident, he insisted he “did nothing wrong” as police pulled a bloody victim out of his van, prosecutors say. He was also convicted of burglary when the group raped an 18-year-old woman at her home while Sype was watching her.
But these crimes alone were not enough to reach the high legal limit to qualify Saipe as a sexual predator. Two medical professionals only found Sipe qualified in 2010, when police arrested him for a parole violation after he literally found Sipe with his pants down in public outside the Oakland Colosseum.
Since then, Sipe has been in a public hospital, where he was a “model patient,” his lawyer wrote in the court records. This year, he referred to his right to trial, but waived the jury, allowing Stekler to decide on his status.
State law states that a person can only be considered a sexual predator if they have a history of sexual assault and a “mental disorder that makes the person dangerous” for sexual assault against future victims. Only certain beliefs apply.
Last year, Contra Costa Supreme Court Justice Patricia Scanlon found that Eric Esco, a Pittsburgh resident convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, cannot be considered a violent sexual predator. Esko was convicted of lewd and lustful acts against a runaway girl who remained in her garage after chatting with him, but the definition of the crime does not include the use of force. According to prosecutors, in 2003, Esko was convicted of sex crimes with underage victims.
On the other hand, earlier in 2020, a Contra Costa jury found that Ernest Stokes, a man repeatedly charged with violent rape, did indeed qualify as a violent sexual predator. In this trial, the biggest debate was Stokes’ mental health status. The jury heard three conflicting expert witnesses who gave differing opinions on whether Stokes had a specific mental disorder.
If someone is considered a sexually aggressive predator, that person may be held in a public hospital indefinitely. They can be considered eligible for release if state doctors determine that the likelihood of reoffending has been substantially reduced.