SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - One of the most notorious sex offenders in San Diego County is a free man after a judge granted his unconditional release Friday.
Matthew Hedge, 49, has been living on the grounds of Donovan state prison in Otay Mesa since 2009 -- at taxpayer expense – inside a trailer and under the supervision of the California Department of Mental Health.
On Friday, San Diego County Superior Court Judge David Gill granted Hedge's petition to be set free of the restrictions of his conditional release, which required that he live in the trailer under intense supervision and GPS monitoring.
News 8 cameras were rolling as Hedge packed up his belongings with his wife who, according to public records, lives in the Skyline community.
"Matthew Hedge did have a GPS ankle bracelet on until today," said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. James Bolwerk. "He is no longer wearing that because he doesn't have to."
Lt. Bolwerk supervises some of the law enforcement personnel who will conduct surveillance on Hedge and conduct surprise visits to his new home.
"He does not have to even stay in the state if he doesn't want to. He can move anywhere he pleases," said Lt. Bolwerk. "He just has five working days to notify us where he's going to go."
Hedge was the first sexually violent predator to be released in San Diego County in 2005 under the state's conditional release program. He violated the terms of his release a few months later and was sent back to a mental hospital. He was ordered released again in 2009 to a trailer just outside the gates of Donovan prison.
Hedge pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two boys and two girls in 1989. News of his release is not sitting well with at least one of his victims.
"He can commit a lot of crimes in five days," said Sue, who did not want her last name used. Hedge fondled Sue and her friend in an El Canon swimming pool when Sue was age 13.
"Once a predator always a predator," said Sue, who was not notified of Hedge's release.
"I mean there are lots of people who have been locked up for plenty of years. They get out, they commit the same crimes and people end up dead," she said.
Hedge's public defender, Marian Gaston, did not return messages seeking comment.
Hedge has five working days to register his new address, which will be posted on the California Megan's Law web site.