James Durgin, 54, is on the run after abandoning a court-mandated drug rehab program. San Francisco police and officers with the U.S. Park Police are now looking for Durgin, an unhoused man with a troubled past, who was required to remain in the live-in rehab program for at least one year as part of a court order issued last summer.
Durgin, who first enrolled in the drug treatment program in August 2022, abruptly withdrew from the center in late November and subsequently missed a court hearing on Dec. 9, leading authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest.
While on the run from police, Durgin was recently spotted naked during a stroll through San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood.
Durgin’s court mandated rehab stems from a slew of criminal charges dating back to April 2021, including assault and attempted burglary. Durgin was accused of trying to break into a building and then beating a 75-year-old man after that man used a hose to soak Durgin and all of his belongings. As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Durgin agreed to undergo drug treatment in lieu of facing criminal charges.
Durgin, a former Bay Area school teacher and gym instructor, has been arrested and released at least 60 times in San Francisco for a range of crimes, including burglary, violence, and drug use, according to law enforcement officials and NBC Bay Area’s review of court documents. His ongoing legal struggles embody the sort of “revolving door” that has long led to criticism of the criminal justice system.
Durgin’s complicated and troubled past is chronicled in “Saving San Francisco,” a six-part streaming series that examines the dark side of one of the wealthiest and most progressive cities in America. As part of the documentary, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit traveled to Durgin’s hometown of Duxbury, Massachusetts to learn how a well-liked and charismatic man became caught up in drugs and accusations of having a bizarre obsession with a woman living in San Francisco’s Presidio neighborhood.
Durgin has repeatedly been accused of terrorizing residents of the Presidio, even showing up to the neighborhood totally naked. The area is considered federal land, and so in addition to San Francisco Police, officers with the National Park Service have also been involved in searching and arresting Durgin over the years.
“Saving San Francisco” is currently streaming on Peacock, Roku, Samsung TV Plus, and Amazon Fire TV.
The series is also available at NBCBayArea.com/SavingSanFrancisco.
A quiet San Francisco Presidio neighborhood is polarized when a homeless, meth addicted man with mental health issues takes up residence in the woods nearby. At first, packages are stolen, and kids’ toys disappear. But then, ominous notes, and an apparent obsession with one woman lead to confrontations with police, and eventually, a man hunt is underway across the city. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban brings us Episode 1 of Saving San Francisco: ‘The Man in the Woods.’
Is he violent and dangerous or harmless and misunderstood? A homeless man, who has been living in the woods of San Francisco’s Presidio, has divided a small-knit community. Some fear for their safety and want him locked up, while others believe he is being unfairly targeted and a victim himself of deep-rooted problems that continue to plague the city. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban brings us Episode 2 of Saving San Francisco: ‘In Sickness and in Health.’
Charges for hate crimes and violence land a homeless man in jail, once again, but who was he before his lengthy criminal record? A trip across the country to his hometown reveals a witty, gifted, and charismatic young man, whose college classmates believed was destined for success, even fame. One close friend is convinced opening the wrong door on a single night may have triggered decades of drugs, crime ,and homelessness. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban brings us Episode 3 of Saving San Francisco: ‘Big Angry Monsters.’
Investigating one man’s journey through homelessness and the criminal justice system in San Francisco exposes deep-rooted and systemic problems that have plagued the city for decades. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban brings us Episode 4 of Saving San Francisco: ‘Beautiful People, Wasted.’
A San Francisco woman, frustrated and fearful, says city leaders have failed to protect her from a man she believes has become dangerous and unpredictable. She’s now taking matters into her own hands. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban brings us Episode 5 of Saving San Francisco: ‘Why Should I Live in Fear?’
Inside the San Francisco County jail, a homeless man finally agrees to talk with the Investigative Unit about his crimes, drug addiction, and alleged obsession with a woman in the woods. Sometimes lucid and confident, at other times disconnected and desperate, he shares a twisted tale that intersects with many of the deep-rooted problems ailing San Francisco. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban brings us Episode 6 of Saving San Francisco: ‘I’m Not That Guy.’