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O.C. judge orders serial rapist back to mental hospital -- maybe for life

An Orange County judge has ordered a convicted serial rapist committed to a mental hospital, possibly for life, after a jury found that he continues to be a threat to society even though he has completed his state prison term.

On Monday, a jury unanimously reached the determination against Dougal Samuels, 55, after a month-long civil commitment trial.

Samuels was convicted in 1989 of raping two women and sexually assaulting two others after meeting them at bars or restaurants along the Orange County coastline. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison and has been in the custody of the state Department of Mental Health since 1996.

During the civil commitment trial, Samuels admitted to raping several women in Illinois in the early 1980s and attempting to rape another Orange County woman in 1987.

Under California law, people convicted of sexually violent offenses must be examined mentally once they have completed their criminal sentence. Prosecutors may petition to have the defendant committed civilly, and must prove that the defendant has committed a sexually violent offense, has been diagnosed with a mental disorder and is likely to offend again once released.

In the civil commitment trial, Samuels claimed that surgery had made him too frail to ever rape again.

But Orange County prosecutors called witnesses from Coalinga State Hospital, where he had been confined, who testified that he regularly worked out and played basketball.

The four women he assaulted also testified at the trial.

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-- Sam Quinones 

 
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