Officials Voice Opposition to Plan to Relocate Violent Sexual Predator to Joshua Tree

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A section of open roadway stands before sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park on Jan. 4, 2019. (Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

A section of open roadway stands before sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park on Jan. 4, 2019. (Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

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Authorities in San Bernardino County said Thursday that they’re fighting against plans to relocate a habitual sex offender to Joshua Tree.

Ross Leo Wollschlager, 56, has been convicted in multiple rapes, including that of a 10-year-old girl who was asleep in her family’s home while he was on parole, according to a news release from San Bernardino County sheriff’s officials.

Court and inmate records show the violent sexual predator was being held at Coalinga State Hospital in the Central Valley after being released from custody in Ventura County on Oct. 3.

A hearing on where Wollschlager will be placed into society is set for Nov. 7. San Bernardino County officials plan to attend the proceedings and oppose the move, arguing that he has no ties to their jurisdiction.

In 1983, Wollschlager was charged with four counts of rape, but he was only convicted on two counts after negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies say he was granted parole in 1987, and it was after that that he sexually assaulted the 10-year-old girl. He returned to prison, but was subsequently placed in a state mental health hospital.

Wollschlager was later released from a mental institution in 2007, and the state hired Liberty Healthcare Corp. to resettle him after he wound up living in the Ventura River bottom, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In 2010, the Thousand Oaks Acorn reported that he had quietly returned to a state mental hospital.

But this January, a Ventura County court ordered Liberty Healthcare to help relocate Wollschlager into society.

San Bernardino County officials say the court determined that “extraordinary circumstances” authorized him to be placed outside of Ventura County. After an attempt to resettle him in Sacramento County failed, Liberty Healthcare began seeking other options.

On Sept. 19, the court tentatively ordered Wollschlager to live at a residence in Joshua Tree, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson and Sheriff John McMahon both say they strongly object to the decision, and Anderson ordered officials from his office to attend the Nov. 7 hearing.

A community meeting on the issue will take place at Sportsman’s Club — 6225 Sunburst Ave. in Joshua Tree — at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21.

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