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After spending 20 years in a state mental hospital, a Costa Mesa man who was required to register as a sex offender is now free, thereby prompting Orange County officials to warn the public and ask Gov. Gavin Newsom to intervene.

Cary Jay Smith, 59, was sent to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino in 1999 on a 72-hour psychiatric hold after his wife gave a letter to a psychiatrist which detailed sex acts Smith wanted to perform on a 7-year-old boy from his neighborhood, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release on Tuesday. 

Smith was held at the mental hospital since 1999 under a section of the state’s Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC 5300) as a result of a series of civil trials that determined he presented a “demonstrated danger of inflicting substantial physical harm” to children, authorities said. 

“During those hearings, Smith has repeatedly testified that he fantasizes about raping and then killing young boys in order to avoid being identified,” Kimberly Edds, spokeswoman for the DA’s Office, said in a statement. “He claims that he has killed three boys and molested 200. He prefers to go by the name Mr. RTK, which stands for rape, torture, kill.” 

In 1985, Smith plead guilty to a misdemeanor sexual offense involving a child and was required to register as a sex offender.

While at the state hospital, Smith was allowed a new trial every six months to demonstrate that he was no longer a danger to society. Over the years, psychologists testified that Smith posed an imminent danger and county lawyers argued to keep Smith confined, the DA’s Office said.

However, the state hospital did not renew the psychiatric hold against Smith and it expired on Saturday. His requirement to register as a sex offender was removed in 2005.

Smith was released from Coalinga State Hospital in Fresno County, to which he was transferred at some point, Edds said.

Edds told KTLA it is believed that Smith is “making his way back to Orange County,” where he previously lived and still has ties.

O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer and Michelle Steel, chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, are urging Newsom to reinstate the requirement to have Smith register as a sex offender and warning the public about his history. 

“This sexual predator has repeatedly testified under oath that he will re-offend if he is released and we should believe him,” Spitzer said. “The public has an absolute right to know that he is coming back into our community, and we will do everything we can to prevent another child from being harmed.” 

Orange County prosecutors filed 20 felony counts of a lewd and lascivious act with a minor against Smith in 2002, but were forced to dismiss those charges due to the statute of limitations of the law at the time.