Sheriff Releases Paris Hilton . . . For Now Anyhow

By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 8, 2007

LOS ANGELES, June 7 -- It is Day One of mansion confinement for Paris Hilton. Electronic monitoring system? Activated. Mrs. Beasley's Gourmet Cupcakes? Delivered. Her walled enclave in West Hollywood? Surrounded.

By cameras. Around noon, a crazed scrum of photographers was fighting to capture the drama of a guy arriving at chez Hilton with a carton of organic dog food, presumably for Tinkerbell, the love-starved Chihuahua.

Be mad! Be glad! You don't get a vote. She is out of the slammer. Hilton was released from the county jail early Thursday because of an undisclosed medical condition and will serve 40 days confined to her yellow-ribboned home in the hills above Sunset Strip. Think about it this way: Paris is, like, totally grounded.

But wait. News Flash! Late Thursday Hilton was ordered back in court for a 9 a.m. hearing Friday -- and she might get sent back to jail. Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, whose office prosecuted Hilton, was enraged that she was sprung by the sheriff because of a medical condition, and so Delgadillo filed a motion to Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer asking the court to return Hilton to the clinker. Earlier, Sauer's spokesman said that while the judge was disappointed that Hilton was released to house arrest, there wasn't anything he could do about it. Judges sentence. Sheriffs incarcerate. So it's a legal cliffhanger.

Early Thursday, the 26-year-old hotel heiress and party girl was affixed with "an ankle bracelet and sent home," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore at a news conference outside the women's jail in Lynwood, where Hilton had resided since she turned herself in on Sunday night after attending the MTV Movie Awards.

What medical condition could be so serious it could not be treated by the medical staff at the Century Regional Detention Facility, which houses 2,200 inmates, many of them mentally ill, addicted or in poor health? "I can't specifically talk about the medical situation other than to say that, yes, it played a part in this," said Whitmore, who stressed that Hilton was not "released" but "reassigned" to home confinement. That would be home confinement with mocha and strawberry cupcake delivery.

Whitmore said he understood the media interest in the mystery medical condition but "privacy concerns" kept him mum. An hour later, publicists for the TV show "Entertainment Tonight" blasted out a mass e-mail stating that "Hilton family sources confirm exclusively to Entertainment Tonight that Paris Hilton has been released from jail due to suffering from an extreme rash on her body."

Extreme rash? Interestingly, the women's jail has played host to an especially persistent antibiotic-resistant infection of staphylococcus bacteria, according to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department. But Whitmore ruled out staph as the medical malady that freed Hilton.

But wait. An hour later, the investigative gossip Web site reported that law enforcement sources told it that "Hilton's medical condition was purely psychological and that she was in peril of having a nervous breakdown, and that's why she was released early this morning." Meaning forget the rash story. It's all in her head.

Nervous breakdown? Interestingly, Hilton was visited in jail by her psychiatrist, Charles Sophy, whose own Web site reports that the celebrity shrink "has been interviewed by virtually every major magazine including but not limited to Parents, Family Circle, Men's Health, Intouch, Fast Company, Nickelodeon, and Instyle."

In an unrelated court matter, Sophy testified last month on Hilton's behalf that his patient was "distraught and traumatized" and consumed by "her fear of incarceration." Hilton "cannot effectively respond to examination as a witness or provide any significant input into her defense," stated Sophy, who had treated the multi-millionaire socialite for about eight months. Hilton was seeking to delay a $10 million civil suit brought against her by actress and diamond heiress Zeta Graff, who accused Hilton of spreading "vicious lies" about her. Hilton has denied that she ever said that Graff tried to grab her $4 million necklace. Meow!

Calls and e-mails to Sophy were not returned on Thursday. Neither did Hilton's publicist utter a word. Hilton's attorney, Richard Hutton, did issue a statement from his client thanking her jailers and the sheriff's department "for treating me fairly and professionally." She continued, "I am going to serve the remaining 40 days of my sentence. I have learned a great deal from this ordeal and hope that others have learned from my mistakes."

What exactly have these others learned? Time will tell. But Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was on the defensive already, saying that his department did not treat celebrities any differently from ordinary criminal-citizens. The headline for Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez's critique: "Paris's New Lap Dog Wears a Badge."

Also peeved was City Attorney Delgadillo, who prosecuted Hilton for violating her probation by driving with a suspended license after a plea agreement following a drunk-driving arrest. "My office was not advised of this action. We learned of it this morning through news reports, just like everyone else. Had we been provided with the proper notification, we would have opposed the decision on legal grounds," Delgadillo said in a statement, adding that he found the house arrest "puzzling."

Before her release, Hilton had been kept in 23-hour-a-day isolation in a small cell at the women's jail, and the gossip columns have alternatively reported that she was crying and not eating, or was holding up and doing fine. According to the sheriff's generous math, Hilton has served five days in jail (checking in late Sunday and out early Thursday), and will now have to remain in home confinement for another 40 days. She was originally sentenced to 45 days in jail. (In jail, she would have gotten out after 23 days because of assumed time off for good behavior.)

If Hilton leaves her home, her ankle bracelet should alert authorities, though it is common for offenders serving home incarceration to be allowed to leave their Spanish-style hillside mansions for necessities such as psychiatric and/or dermatological appointments -- and to return to court.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company