Community members say given Kevin Gray's history, they believe he'll strike again.
MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- State lawmakers and local leaders are speaking out against the release of a sexually violent predator in Merced County.
Sheriff Vern Warnke says neither he nor the district attorney was contacted about the pending release and relocation of convict Kevin Gray from Stanislaus County.
On the California Megan's Law website, Gray is described as a violent sexual predator who was first convicted in 1993 and last released in 2002.
In October 2020, a judge ordered him to be released from a state hospital and placed in the small Merced County community of Ballico, where he has no connections.
"I can tell you what they're not going to do without my blessing is dump this guy in my county. If this guy is eventually placed here, it's not going to be pretty," said Sheriff Warnke.
"I'm pissed. There's no reason for this. They want to talk about rehabilitation. Well, it's not happening when you have something like this; there's nobody rehabilitated. I got one way he can rehabilitate, but they're not gonna like that answer."
Sheriff Warnke believes the people of Ballico are at risk, and Gray will strike again.
Action News reached out to the California Department of State Hospitals.
They could not specifically talk about Gray's case but did send over a statement that says, in part:
"The California Department of State Hospitals is committed to providing effective treatment in a safe environment, in a fiscally responsible manner and to assuring public safety."
Still, local lawmakers say the process of placing Gray was not handled according to existing state law.
"This crucial legislation explicitly states that a sexually violent predator cannot be housed in any other county unless the judge has petitioned extraordinary circumstances for not finding suitable residence in the person's county domicile," said Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil, who represents Amador County.
At Monday's news conference, the speakers said they'd been told that state hospitals couldn't find a place to take Gray near his prior home in Stanislaus County.
Merced, one county over, had the space.
Ballico resident Karen Barstow says people in the community didn't receive proper notice of Gray being placed in their area. She says they are now scrambling to find a way to make their voice heard.
"We were able to pull a Town Hall meeting very quickly, within, by the next night. And that tells you some of the urgency that our community feels," Barstow explained.
Action News did reach out to Gray's attorney, Martin Baker, who said he has no comment regarding his client.