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Judge reverses order to send sexual predator to live in Ballico
Kevin Gray
Kevin Gray is listed as a sexually violent predator who was first convicted in 1993 of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age.


Turlock Journal


MODESTO — Convicted sex offender Kevin Gray will not be released into Merced County, after a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge on Friday reversed a previous ruling.

Where Gray will live upon his release is not yet known, but state law dictates that sexually violent predators must be released back into the county where they lived when they committed their crimes, unless extraordinary circumstances dictate otherwise. If that’s the case, the new county of residence must be notified.

“Typically, they’re released into their county of domicile,” said Merced County Chief Deputy District Attorney Katie Gates. “If no suitable housing is available in their county, the law allows the court to explore options in other counties.”

Gray, now 72, has been incarcerated since his conviction in 1993 for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14. A repeat offender, Gray was convicted in three separate cases — in Stanislaus and Los Angeles counties — going back to 1974. In 2007, he was committed to the Department of State Hospitals.

In 2020, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Carrie M. Stephens ruled that extraordinary circumstances existed and Gray could be released outside of Stanislaus County.

Last month, Stephens ruled that Gray could be placed in Ballico — a rural Merced County community just outside of Turlock — despite the fact he was living in Stanislaus County when he was convicted. He was set to be released Feb. 20.

“It’s complicated,” Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira said Friday. “The law that says you have to notify other counties when extraordinary circumstances exist wasn’t passed until January 2023. It didn’t apply in 2020, when the judge found that extraordinary circumstances existed in this case. It’s a complicated gray area.”

However, Merced County authorities learned that Gray’s proposed placement address was within one-quarter mile of a home school, which violates the law and led to Stephens’ reversal.

Essentially, that leaves the ball in Stanislaus County’s court, and officials are determining their next move.

“At this point, there has been an order by the court that the defendant will be released from the California State Hospital in Coalinga that houses sexually violent predators,” said Wendell Emerson, Chief Deputy District Attorney for Stanislaus County. “We are researching and investigating what legal options are at our disposal to see if we can have that order reversed.”

State Sen. Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson) is co-sponsoring legislation with state Senate minority leader Brian Jones (R-40th District) on SB 1074, which “aims to prevent the state from secretly dumping sexually violent predators in unsuspecting communities throughout the state with no regard to public safety,” according to their joint press release.

“It’s unfortunate that rural communities in particular are becoming the dumping ground for these types of criminals,” said Alvarado-Gil. “While I'm pleased for Merced County, now I have to roll up my sleeves and fight for Stanislaus County.”