JOSHUA TREE — The San Bernardino County district attorney’s office announced that Ventura County was trying to place a violent sexual predator in the Joshua Tree community this week. Ross Leo Wollschlager is a convicted rapist and child molester. The community was quick to respond in opposition and Sheriff John McMahon, Supervisor Dawn Rowe and the district attorney’s office will hold a public meeting Monday to open the floor to concerned locals.
Wollschlager, 56, was convicted of raping two women in 1983. He served prison time and was released on parole in 1987. While on parole, he entered the room of a 10-year-old girl asleep in her bed and sexually assaulted her. He returned to state prison and was declared a sexually violent predator under the State Welfare & Institutions Code in Ventura County.
He was released from prison in 1996 and committed to the custody of the state Department of Mental Health.
In 2006, the court granted Wollschlager conditional release as an outpatient under the supervision of the forensic treatment program. Liberty Healthcare, a contractor hired by Ventura County, was ordered to place him in a home.
Liberty Healthcare attempted to place him in Los Angeles County, but around the same time, Jessica’s Law went into effect, restricting where sex offenders could live. Liberty was unable to find a stable household for Wollschlager. He was bounced from hotel to hotel and at one point was even living in a tent under supervision. Wollschlager eventually violated his parole and was taken back into custody.
In 2010, he received a second conditional release into a converted garage, but his parole was revoked again after he was found to have contacted children without reporting it to Liberty Healthcare.
On Jan. 31, 2019, Judge Nancy Ayers of Ventura County Superior Court ordered Liberty Healthcare to assist in another conditional release for Wollschlager. He was initially set to be released in Sacramento County but after community outrage, the court ordered Liberty Healthcare to look at other counties, including San Bernardino County. He was ordered to be placed in Joshua Tree on Sept. 19 and was released from custody in Ventura County on Oct. 3.
On Thursday morning, the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office sent out a press release in opposition to the plan, stating that a Ventura County predator should be placed in Ventura County.
“San Bernardino County DA Jason Anderson, Sheriff John McMahon and county law enforcement strongly objects to Joshua Tree being a dumping site for a sexual predator with no connections to our county,” the press release states.
The law enforcement officials say Wollschlager committed his crimes in Ventura County and his releases were granted and revoked in Ventura County.
“If he is to be released, San Bernardino County law enforcement thinks he should remain in Ventura County,” they said.
County 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Rowe took to Facebook the spread the message and said she will be fighting against Ventura County’s decision.
“We are holding an emergency community meeting on Monday,” she wrote. “I hope you can attend the meeting and join me in fighting this injustice.”
The Morongo Basin sheriff’s station also spread the news on the social media platform and hundreds of local residents commented that they would be attending the meeting to voice their outrage.
The community meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Joshua Tree Sportsman’s Club at 6225 Sunburst Street, Joshua Tree.
A final determination on Wollschlager’s placement will be made at 9 a.m. Nov. 7 in Ventura County Superior Court at 800 South Victoria Road in Ventura.