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Placer County judge denies a gag order request regarding sexually violent predator William Stephenson | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

(FOX40.COM) — Placer County Superior Court considered a protective order Friday that was requested by the Department of State Hospitals to prevent the Placer County District Attorney’s Office and other county participants from sharing information learned during the Aug. 21 Community Housing meeting for sexually violent predator William Stephenson.

Stephenson was released from prison after almost 30 years and then turned over to the Department of State Hospitals (DSH). Stephenson served time for violent sex offenses and possession of child pornography, according to reports.

He was granted conditional transient release into Placer County on July 17, under California’s Sexually Violent Predator Program. An open meeting that will allow community members to voice their opinions about Stephenson’s placement is scheduled for August 21, but DSH, whose responsible for his placement, requested that the meeting be closed. A closed meeting would leave Placer County residents oblivious to Stephenson’s placement location.

“The Department of State Hospitals is seeking to exclude the very voices they are obligated to listen to – the Placer County community,” said Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire. “As public servants, they are legally required to hold open meetings as the residents have a right to know about important decisions being made in their communities. We will continue to challenge DSH at every step until they operate with the openness and transparency our residents deserve.”

The defense brought up confidentiality concerns saying they didn’t want Stephenson’s medical records disclosed to the public at the August 21 meeting. However, the judge said he believes medical confidentiality won’t be an issue because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).

The judge denied the request from DSH to close off the August 21 meeting to the public. He said the decision was based upon public interest and the need for there to be transparency.

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