VENTURA — After hearing from Morongo Basin representatives Thursday morning, a Ventura County judge agreed not to release convicted rapist and child molester Ross Leo Wollschlager into a Joshua Tree home.
Wollschlager, 56, was convicted of raping two women in 1983. He served prison time and was released in 1987. While on parole, he sexually assaulted a sleeping 10-year-old girl. He returned to state prison and was declared a sexually violent predator under the State Welfare & Institutions Code in Ventura County.
After he was released from prison in 1996, he was 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 a forensic treatment program. Liberty Healthcare was ordered to find a home for him and attempted to place him in Los Angeles County, but with legal restrictions on where sex offenders could live and few landlords willing to house him, Liberty could not find a place for Wollschlager.
He was taken back into custody in 2009 when he was found with pornography and had methamphetamine in his system.
He received a second conditional release the next year, but his parole was revoked again after he had contact with children without reporting it.
On Jan. 31, 2019, Judge Nancy Ayers of Ventura County ordered Liberty to assist in another release for Wollschlager. Ayers ruled that since Liberty couldn’t find a home for him in his own county, Wollschlager could be placed elsewhere.
Liberty then tried to place him in Sacramento County, but after community outrage, the court ordered the company to look at other counties, including San Bernardino.
Wollschlager was ordered to be placed in Joshua Tree on Sept. 19. Since Oct. 3, he has been living in Coalinga State Hospital.
Local officials from San Bernardino County worked to oppose the relocation.
Sheriff John McMahon, District Attorney Jason Anderson and Supervisor Dawn Rowe met with hundreds of concerned citizens last month. Several local entities also released official letters opposing the placement, including the city of Twentynine Palms, the town of Yucca Valley and the Morongo Unified School District.
“One judge, in one day, made one bad decision go away,” MUSD Superintendent Tom Baumgarten said after Ayers’ ruling.
Hundreds of locals also emailed their opposition to Wollschlager’s relocation and these were presented to the judge.
“I’m pleased with the judge’s ruling,” Rowe said. “It demonstrates that when a community comes together over a common cause, we can truly make a difference.”