The District Attorney’s Office is set to present evidence against alleged sexual harasser Bill Gene Hobbs in court this week, bringing the testimonies of six additional women on top of 16 already filed charges.
Hobbs, who gained media attention for allegedly following, grabbing or harassing multiple women and girls, is now facing 21 misdemeanor charges ranging from sexual battery, battery, assault and public nuisance as well as a felony charge of false imprisonment.
At a preliminary hearing that began Tuesday morning and could last at least through Wednesday, a judge is set to hear arguments on whether there is sufficient evidence to continue with a trial.
The case gained public attention after a number of women, many of whom's testimonies will be heard in court, turned to social media with allegations against Hobbs.
Much of the District Attorney’s evidence is based upon the police’s record of these victim testimonies.
Public defender Max Breecker indicated in court on Friday that he hopes to have Hobbs’ felony false imprisonment charge dropped to a misdemeanor, arguing that Hobbs should be released from jail to live with his mother.
Hobbs pleaded not guilty to all charges on Oct. 17.
The felony charge against Hobbs stems from testimony from an alleged victim Madeline E., who stated that Hobbs bear-hugged her from behind and carried her 15 feet while she was walking her dog in the Marina District.
At a Tuesday hearing, Breecker questioned the police’s collection of Madeline’s testimony, which was reported to them more than 10 months after she said the crime occurred.
Madeline said she reported the incident to police after reading a news article about other women coming forward with allegations against Hobbs, according to police sergeant Thomas Ly. She recalled in her testimony yelling at Hobbs to let her go, and that once she was freed, he stared at her with “dead eyes” and a “creepy smile."
Breecker asked Ly at the Tuesday hearing if Madeline had specified whether the physical contact had been “inappropriate.”
Ly said that he wasn’t sure if Madeline hadn’t used that language in their conversation, but he contended that “being placed in a bear hug from behind is inappropriate touching.”
“I don't know if it's truly felonious conduct since the rest of the charges are misdemeanors,” Breecker told The Standard in an interview. “A little fresh air might be the best thing.”
At a prior hearing, a prosecutor from the District Attorney’s Office argued that the misdemeanor charges could’ve become felonious had his alleged victims not escaped.
Hobbs could face up to three years in county jail if found guilty of false imprisonment.
David Sjostedt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org