Jack Louis Sporich – Repeat Sex Offender – Escaped Civil Confinement by legal maneuvers – Busted in Cambodia

The 74-year-old retired engineer appeared to have escaped his past, which included his classification as one of California’s most dangerous sex offenders, one who authorities suspect may have molested more than 500 young boys over the years.

He once complained that California had violated his civil rights by committing him to Atascadero for 39 months after he had completed his prison sentence.

Sporich’s case was highlighted in The Bee’s series, which revealed that it was far easier for offenders to win release from Atascadero by refusing treatment than by undergoing the lengthy treatment program designed to prevent them from reoffending.

Jack Louis Sporich was living an idyllic retirement, splitting his time between a luxury condo in Sedona, Ariz., and a sprawling home he was having built in a tourist mecca in Cambodia.

The 74-year-old retired engineer appeared to have escaped his past, which included his classification as one of California’s most dangerous sex offenders, one who authorities suspect may have molested more than 500 young boys over the years.

Now, officials say Sporich, who won his release from Atascadero State Hospital in May 2004 without spending a single day in treatment, may have reoffended.

He has been charged in Cambodia with indecent acts against minors in a case involving four young Cambodian boys, according to an official in Phnom Penh whose organization helped investigate Sporich.

Cambodian news accounts of his arrest indicate Sporich denied the allegations, which included the claim that he lured the children – ages 9 to 13 – to his home with toys and candies. The Cambodia Daily reported that he also attracted youngsters by dropping dollar bills in the street.

He was arrested Feb. 2 and remains in custody in the tourist town of Siem Reap, according to Seila Samleang, executive director of Action Pour Les Enfants-Cambodia.

APLE-Cambodia is a non-governmental organization that works closely with Cambodian police to target foreign pedophiles who exploit youngsters in that country, and Sporich had been under investigation by the group.

Samleang said in an e-mail to The Bee on Tuesday that the charges are misdemeanors punishable by a prison sentence of one to three years. Sexual exploitation of children has been a problem for years in Cambodia, where the age of consent is 15.

Todd Melnik, the defense attorney who won Sporich’s release from Atascadero, said he knew nothing of the Cambodia charges. An e-mail to Sporich this week seeking comment did not receive a response.

Sporich is no stranger to charges of sex with children.

He spent nine years in prison after his conviction in Ventura County on seven counts of lewd acts upon children under 14. Then, he was committed to Atascadero State Hospital as a “sexually violent predator” deemed too dangerous to be released upon completion of his sentence.

David Lehr, a Ventura County defense attorney who originally prosecuted Sporich, said he may have had as many as 500 victims, and that he typically befriended boys through their parents and offered to take them on camping trips.

The parents frequently would pay Sporich for his gas and the time he spent on the trips, Lehr said last week.

“If I had to pick from a list of former and current SVPs, he would be, by far, the first one I would be most concerned about,” Lehr said in an interview for a 2006 series of stories in The Bee about sexually violent predators.

Sporich was released from Atascadero in May 2004, after two juries were unable to agree on whether he would re-offend, and he immediately moved to Arizona, where the only requirement he faced was that he register as a sex offender once a year.

He is not listed on the current sex offender registry maintained by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Sporich’s case was highlighted in The Bee’s series, which revealed that it was far easier for offenders to win release from Atascadero by refusing treatment than by undergoing the lengthy treatment program designed to prevent them from reoffending.

Since the treatment program began 13 years ago, 17 offenders have won release by undergoing all or some of the required programs, and none has reoffended, the state says.

By contrast, 155 others – including Sporich – have been released through court orders.

After The Bee’s series, lawmakers introduced a number of proposed improvements to the system and voters later that year overwhelmingly approved Proposition 83.

That measure increased prison sentences for habitual and violent offenders and did away with the requirement that sexually violent predators be allowed a trial every two years. Instead, they now can petition annually for a hearing, but the burden of proof is on them to convince a court they no longer pose a threat.

In an interview for The Bee’s 2006 series, Sporich said he felt remorse for his actions and complained that California had violated his civil rights by committing him to Atascadero for 39 months after he had completed his prison sentence.

He also boasted of his photographic excursions to Southeast Asia, and showed off a photo on the wall of his Sedona condo of the bare bottom of a preschool-aged boy urinating in public.

Family members say that in recent years Sporich married a 23-year-old Southeast Asian woman with several small children and that he had begun building a large home in Cambodia.

June Caine, Sporich’s older sister, said he met the woman, a waitress, overseas after leaving her a $100 tip. Caine said the family had known for years of Sporich’s past and had hoped he would seek treatment.

“I don’t want him out anymore,” she said. “I think he’s sick, and he’s never going to get well. I don’t want this to go on.”

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

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