A habitual sex offender has been charged with indecent exposure and annoying a child after he showed his genitals to three children at an Elmwood park earlier this month, Berkeley police report.
On the day of the incident, April 1 at about 2 p.m., a parent had noticed the man with his genitals exposed at Bateman Mall Park, just south of Alta Bates Hospital, police said in response to a Berkeleyside inquiry: “When a parent confronted the man, the man told them that it wasn’t illegal,” police said, then ran over to three children, ages 5 and 6, and “deliberately exposed his genitals” to them within just a foot or two.
The man then ran away, said BPD spokesperson Officer Byron White, but a witness was able to take his photograph and share it with police. Berkeley sex crimes detectives identified the man as 63-year-old sex offender Herbert Blue and sought a warrant for his arrest. Within a week, detectives had tracked down Blue and taken him into custody at his elaborate tent camp near Tunnel Road and Highway 13, police said.
According to court papers, one parent who witnessed the incident told police it was “super disturbing” and that Blue’s behavior was sexually motivated: “He was definitely not urinating,” she said. One of the children said he had never seen a grown man’s penis before, adding: “It was gross.”
In addition to the new charges, Blue is on probation, according to court papers, for failing to register his address with police in recent years.
“In Alameda County alone, Blue has had eleven felony convictions for violating the terms of his parole (since 2017), and two felony convictions for violating his sex offender registration requirements (since 2013),” police wrote in charging documents. Two of Blue’s convictions, in 2008 and 2009, were for felony indecent exposure — both convictions sent him to prison — and one was for misdemeanor indecent exposure.
On April 7, police arrested Blue at his encampment near Tunnel Road. In the days that followed, according to BPD, Public Works staff cleared the camp and removed more than 2.6 tons of debris. They also found more than 50 stolen city of Berkeley garbage cans at the camp, BPD said.
After his arrest, according to court papers, Blue told police he had been at Bateman Mall Park on April 1 “but only to get a drink of water from the drinking fountain.”
The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Blue on April 8 with two felony counts of indecent exposure with prior convictions for the same offense, one misdemeanor count of annoying a child and two felony counts of parole revocation, according to court records online.
On Wednesday, the DA’s office also charged Blue with felony indecent exposure in connection with an incident in May 2020, according to court papers. No further details about that case were immediately available.
Herbert Blue also has an open case, from September 2020, where he was charged with failing to register as a sex offender. As a convicted sex offender, he is required to report his address to authorities each year within five days of his birthday in August, according to court papers filed in November 2020 by the Alameda County sheriff’s office.
“Blue is a well above average risk to reoffend,” according to the sheriff’s office documents, based on a risk assessment tool that includes a psychological evaluation.
He last registered with authorities in 2017, when he listed his location as transient in Berkeley, according to court papers. Because he is transient, state law requires him to register every 30 days.
Blue remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin with a combined bail of $80,000 in connection with several open cases. He appears ineligible to post bail, however, due to the new parole revocation charges filed against him. His listed occupation is “unemployed.”
Blue is scheduled for a preliminary hearing, where a judge determines whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial, on May 6 at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.