A judge ruled that alleged serial harasser Bill Gene Hobbs will face trial for a felony charge of false imprisonment, as well as misdemeanor charges of sexual battery, while dismissing nine charges against him for public nuisance and assault.
Arguments between the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office in recent weeks came down to whether Hobbs acted with malicious intent and presented a public nuisance. Judge Stephen Murphy found that Hobbs did act with intent, since his alleged victims are all women, but that his alleged actions did not present a nuisance to the community at large.
“There’s no question that his actions caused the victims discomfort,” Murphy said. “However, these actions with regard to any particular victim does not affect the community.”
Hobbs’ attorney Max Breecker has argued that the charges against his client didn’t support a case of felonious conduct, stating that Hobbs should be released to live with his mother. Breecker argued last week that Hobbs didn’t act with intent because he suffers from mental illness.
Breecker raised those arguments again on Tuesday, saying that Hobbs should be released for the remainder of the court proceedings to live with his mother, despite the judge finding that Hobbs must stand trial for his felony charge. Hobbs’ mother, Alice Hobbs, previously told The Standard that her son “just needs better pick-up lines.”
Deputy District Attorney Colin Alexander argued that Hobbs would pose the same danger to women in Bakersfield that women in San Francisco say they’ve experienced. Alexander pointed to other charges against Hobbs in Ventura County.
“The only solution for this that can assure the safety of the public is detention,” Alexander said. “In this case, these misdemeanors are much more disturbing than say one misdemeanor battery.”
Murphy ruled that Hobbs should stay in custody because he has previously shown irreverence for committing the alleged crimes in busy public spaces.
“I dont think that having the defendant in Bakersfield will satisfy the requirements of public safety,” Murphy said.
David Sjostedt can be reached at [email protected]