It took six years to get one deranged dirtbag off the streets of San Francisco

This is the kind of story that only seems to happen in places like San Francisco, cities where a certain progressive view of crime and criminals has taken hold. The focus of this particular story is a dirtbag named Bill Gene Hobbs. Hobbs is 6 foot 4, weighs more than 200 pounds and has the word “evil” tattooed on his knuckles. He also has a hobby that he has repeatedly practiced on the streets of San Francisco. He likes to grab women he doesn’t know, scaring them to death. Sometimes he kisses them and sometimes he just gropes them.


Hobbs made the news when a woman he grabbed on the street in Dec. 2020 turned out to be a 15-year-old girl. Terrified, she ducked into a book store and called her father, Blaise Zerega. He raced to the scene and Hobbs was still there. He was arrested but about six months later the girl’s parents were told that Hobbs had been released “in the interest of justice.

The…call came June 28 when Zerega heard from the assistant district attorney assigned to his daughter’s case. A San Francisco Superior Court judge had just dismissed the entire matter. Charges of child molestation and battery? Dropped. A court order to stay away from the girl? Wiped out. Judge Russell Roeca said his ruling was “in the interest of justice.”…

“The guy’s a predator,” said Zerega, the managing editor at Alta Journal. “It boggles the mind that the judge failed to account for the safety of people in San Francisco and girls and women in particular.”

And it turns out this isn’t the first break Hobbs has caught in San Francisco.

He has had six criminal cases against him in San Francisco dating to 2017. They include charges of trespassing, false imprisonment, battery and giving false information to police — they were all dismissed by judges “in the interest of justice,” according to a clerk at the Superior Court who looked up the cases for me.

So thanks to all of those previous cases being dropped, Hobbs was on the street harassing teenagers four years later, only to have that case dismissed as well.

SF Chonicle author Heather Knight tried to find out why the 2021 case involving the 15-year-old had been dismissed but no one would answer her questions. She asked a former prosecutor named Thomas Ostly to look at the case and he said there was no reason it had to be handled as it was.


Ostly said the judge could have also required that Hobbs plead guilty or no contest to the charges so they’d stay on his record. Instead, it’s as if the whole thing never happened.

Ostly also took issue with the District Attorney’s Office charging the child molestation as a misdemeanor instead of a felony. He said a felony charge would have given the prosecutors more leverage, such as compelling Hobbs to seek treatment rather than face state prison time. He added the District Attorney’s Office could also have charged Hobbs for threatening Zerega outside the bookstore…

“There is nothing I have seen about how this was handled that shows even the bare minimum of competence,” Ostly said, referring to [Judge] Roeca and the District Attorney’s Office.

The same month the case was dropped was the month DA Chesa Boudin was recalled. And it seems that it’s partly thanks to the arrival of replacement DA Brook Jenkins that Hobbs if finally going to jail. Because it turned out there were more women who’d been harassed on the street by Hobbs.

It was a sunny Friday afternoon, and the grass at Dolores Park beckoned. A 27-year-old woman named Cassidy lay down near the tennis courts, popped in earbuds to listen to music
and began to doze off.

Suddenly, she felt somebody’s breath on her face. She opened her eyes to find a stranger pressing his body against her side, his arm around her. His eyes were bloodshot, she said, and the veins in his arm bulged. His fingers on her body had the letters E-V-I-L inked on them.

“I think I just found the love of my life,” the man said.

“Who the f— are you? Get off of me right now!” Cassidy remembers yelling in a panic at about 2 p.m. on July 8.


Hobbs was arrested again a month later for walking into a man’s house uninvited. He could have been charged but you’ll never guess what happened. The new DA, Brook Jenkins, dismissed the case “in the interest of justice.” Meanwhile, more women kept coming forward to talk about their encounters with Hobbs.

Tess, 28, said she was running in the Panhandle on Aug. 6 when someone grabbed her from behind, kissed her neck and said, “It’s so good to see you!” She said she is certain the man
was Hobbs. She said she told him she didn’t know who he was and that he responded, “I’m Jesus Christ.”

Finally, Brook Jenkins office did get on the ball and combined all of the cases against Hobbs into one, thinking that a judge would be more likely to take it seriously if it was all presented at once. And that seems to have worked. An all male jury convicted Hobbs on nine counts last month. More than a dozen women testified against him during the trial. Yesterday was sentenced to 5 1/2 years behind bars.

After a string of judges failed to take Hobbs’ crimes seriously over several years, Judge Harry Dorfman seemed to see him for what he is: a pathetic, disturbed man who on Thursday repeatedly screamed at and mocked his victims on his day of judgment.

After banishing a ranting and raving Hobbs to a holding cell, unable to hear his own sentence, Dorfman ordered him to serve 2½ years in county jail for eight misdemeanor crimes including battery, sexual battery and assault, minus credit for time served since his arrest in October. Then, Hobbs will be moved to state prison for a three-year sentence for felony false imprisonment related to picking up and carrying a woman down the street as she walked her dog.

He must also register as a sex offender and pay fines and fees totaling $2,930


It’s a good outcome but it shouldn’t have taken six years to get Bill Gene Hobbs off the street. In San Francisco the interest of justice always seems to mean that low-level offenders, whether using drugs, camping in public or harassing women on the street, get an endless pass.

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