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Cover Story March 18th, 2010

  Untitled Document

Our Neighbors, The Sexual Predators?

by lyle e davis

coverIs there a sex offender living next door to you?

We asked that question back on March 7, 2002, in a cover story dealing with these creeps.

The good news? At that time we had 911 registered sex offenders living in North San Diego County . . . right where you and I live.

Today, there are only 482. I use the term “only 482” advisedly because that figure does not include convicted sex offenders that under Megan’s Law are not required to be listed on the public file maintained by the Attorney General’s Office: http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/disclaimer.aspx?lang=ENGLISH

That list shows 139 registered sex offenders in Escondido. However, police officials advise us there are 198 known sex offenders in Escondido. Those not listed fall under the category that does not require them to be listed. They have to register . . .but don’t have to be listed. That needs to be fixed. That’s the job for our state legislators.

To access your city and find out who and how many registered sex offenders may be your neighbors, go to the website listed above, check the box agreeing to the terms, then the next page will allow you to list a city and/or zip code to examine.

In spite of these “hidden” registered sex offenders, it is still good news that we have reduced the gross number from 911 to 482.

They leave California's prisons every day -- dangerous sex offenders, even those posing a high risk to re-offend. Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher is trying to develop new legislation to fix that. It’s called “Chelsea’s Law.”

The parents of Chelsea King are working with his office to craft the legislation needed to overcome the red tape and other obstacles needed to both put these creeps in prison and keep them there for longer periods of time.

This issue has the attention of our legislators. In addition to Assemblyman Fletcher’s efforts, Senator Mark Wyland will not only endorse “Chelsea’s Law,” but he carried his own bill to tighten sex offender’s laws in 2005 (Assembly Bill 1484, which was shot down by the Assembly Public Safety Committee by Democrats who believe these predators can be rehabilitated). He believes that public safety is the top priority and most important job of government.

Wyland is also currently working on legislation that we can push in the Senate as Assemblyman Fletcher’s bill goes through the Assembly. He has been talking with law enforcement and other contacts to see what some options are.

The Paper has been doing the same homework.

One long time friend in law enforcement told me . . . “If there was just one thing that would help law enforcement it would be to simplify Section 290 of the Penal Code. It is so complex that I have a hard time understanding all of it and I’ve been in law enforcement for over 25 years.”

Part of the problem with Section 290 is that it has so many twists and turns that a good defense attorney can find a loophole by which he can get his client out of the Justice System and on the street. These are the creeps we don’t want on the street. We want them in prison, where they belong. For as long as we can keep them there.

Section 290 does not require tight enforcement of sex offenders on probation or parole. That needs to be tightened up.

Judges need to invoke the Fourth Amendment Waiver more often. This gives police the right to search the sex offender’s person, home, property, and does not require them to go to court to issue a warrant. Often, time is critical when trying to uncover evidence implicating a child molester or other sexual deviate. The police need to be able to enforce the law . . . and they need strict laws for these predators.

There is nothing legally that can keep them in prison, but a community is supposed to at least be warned when they leave prison and move in.

The Paper is proud to have played a major role in getting the City Councils of both Escondido and San Marcos to insist on computer access to the Megan’s Law list so local people could go to their own local law enforcement to check things out.

That, we are also pleased to report, was done, but is no longer necessary as the information is now readily available on the Internet. All you have to do is set your browser to: http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/disclaimer.aspx?lang=ENGLISH

The reading will turn up some interesting results.

By community, the Megan’s Law Public Registry of Sex Offenders shows these predators:

Escondido 139
San Marcos 37
Vista 115
Carlsbad 29
Oceanside ` 147
Valley Center 15

Total: 482

Under Megan's Law, you're supposed to be notified, but The Paper has learned that, other than via the above cited listing, many of you are getting no warning at all when registered sex offenders move into your neighborhood.

That was the policy of the Escondido Police Department, but the last time they publicly notified a neighborhood was July 2007. We are told this indivdual was the last one that met the Megan’s Law criteria for requiring notification to the neighborhood.

We suggest this might need to be changed under the proposed new legislation offered under Chelsea’s Law and that offered by Senator Mark Wyland. The more we know about these creepy people, the safer we should be. Had the neighborhood been alerted to the presence of John Gardner III, who knows what might have been prevented? Indeed, if that information had been acted upon by his parole/probation officer he might well be back in prison and none of his alleged criminal activity would have occurred.

We are told that similar practices are in place in both the Oceanside and Carlsbad Police Departments. Lieutenant Joe Young and Lieutenant Paul Mendez from the Oceanside and Carlsbad Police Departments, respectivley, report they generally notify neighborhoods when a registered violent sex offender moves into a neighborhood. Notification is typically by a combination of flyers and door to door. Often, this is requested by parole/probation departments and their staff will often work with police officers.

Here’s the problem with that, according to those critics who are calling for more stringent enforcement of the law, given the latest tragic circumstances we have all witnessed locally:

cartoonThose exempt from appearing on the Registered Sex Offender List you see posted by the Sheriff’s Department include:

(1) sexual battery by restraint (Penal Code § 243.4, subd. (a));
(2) misdemeanor child molestation (Penal Code § 647.6, or former section 647a); or
(3) any offense which did not involve penetration or oral copulation, the victim of which was a child, stepchild, grandchild, or sibling of the offender, and for which the offender successfully completed or is successfully completing probation.

In other words, some creep who exposes himself to a child or, for that matter, to anyone, is exempt. Most neighbors would want to know if an indivdiual who got his jollies by exposing himself, lived in their neighborhood.

Let’s take the exemptions one by one:

a. Sexual battery by restraint:
(a) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery. (This section also includes the intimate touching of someone who is either unconscious or in a medical institution and incapable of defending oneself).
Punishment: punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

b. Misdeameanor Child Molestation:
(a) (1) Every person who annoys or molests any child under 18 years of age shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(3) any offense which did not involve penetration or oral copulation, the victim of which was a child, stepchild, grandchild, or sibling of the offender, and for which the offender successfully completed or is successfully completing probation.

What this third exemption appears to say is . . . ‘if all this guy did was expose himself to some 9 year-old child, then we’re not required, indeed, he is exempt, from being publicly listed on the list of sexual offenders. After all, there was no penetration, no oral copulation.’

You will note in the citations listed above, we bolded the statements that had to do with punishment.

We did that for a reason.

We submit those sentences amount to a slap on the wrist and do little, if anything, to deter molesters from approaching our children, our wives, our mothers.

We submit that Assemblyman Fletcher and Senator Wyland may well want to look at these provisions and include much stronger legislation that would mandate stronger and longer sentences and to require that neighbors be notified when registered sex offenders move into a neighborhood, without exemption.

Our police departments already have the necessary law in place if they would wish to, or if their governing legislative body wishes them to notify neighbors whenever a registered sex offender moves into the neighborhood, whether that offender is violent or not. Section 290.45 reads:

(a) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and except as provided in paragraph (2), any designated law enforcement entity may provide information to the public about a person required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Section 290, by whatever means the entity deems appropriate, when necessary to ensure the public safety based upon information available to the entity concerning that specific person.
(2) The law enforcement entity shall include, with the disclosure, a statement that the purpose of the release of information is to allow members of the public to protect themselves and their children from sex offenders.

The solution here, it seems to us, is local. The City Council and/or the Board of Supervisors can direct their law enforcement agencies to always notify neighborhoods if and when a registered sex offender moves into that neighborhood. It is already provided for by law.

As Sergeant Mendez of the Carlsbad Police Department said, “once the neighbors learn a registered sexual offender has moved into a neighborhood, things happen; the offender understands very quickly he is not welcome. Often, he will wind up living at someplace like La Posada Guadalupe, where they pay $15 a night to stay. They live with others, like migrant workers, and in time, they are no longer welcome there either. So they move on.”

If the Criminal Justice system can’t or won’t solve the problem by putting these sexual offenders away for a longer period of time, and keep better tabs on them, it seems to us that’s what most people would want registered sexual offenders to do: move on. And keep on moving on. They are not wanted in our neighborhood.

Remember, the registered sex offenders on the Attorney General’s List are of the serious type. And they live right amongst us!

The figures for North San Diego are startling.

In the four zip codes that make up Escondido, we have 139 registered sex offenders.

In Escondido:
92027 has 50
92025 has 46
92026 has 32
92029 has 11

In San Marcos, a total of 37:
92069 has 20
92078 has 17

In Vista, a total of 115
92083 has 71
92084 has 35
92085 has 9

In Carlsbad, a total of 29
92008 has 16
92009 has 8
92011 has 3
Other 2

Oceanside, a total of 147
92054 has 71
92056 has 31
92057 has 36
92058 has 8

Valley Center
92082 has 14

Total: 482

Remember, as pointed out earlier, these do not include those registered sex offenders that are exempt from being listed online.

Why and How You Are Entitled to See the List of Sexual Offenders

Megan's Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. In the wake of the tragedy, the Kanka's sought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area. The law was designed to make sure parents know when a dangerous sex offender moves in, and in California you have access to the Attorney General’s list of registerd sex offenders via the Internet.

In states like Illinois, Texas and New York, there are no secrets about where high-risk sex offenders live. Their names, photos and in New York, even their exact address, are listed on the Internet for all to view.

When the former attorney general, Ed Lockyear, was asked why California doesn't do this, he answered simply: "Because legislators voted no," which leaves California with a Megan's Law that one officer says does more to protect the criminal than the public.

"It protects the icky people," he said.

Escondido Mayor Pro-Tem Dick Daniels: I would support a pro-active response by our police department with respect to notifying neighbors when registered sex offenders move into the neighborhood.

In 2002, Mayor Lori Pfeiler affirmed that she supported giving direction to the Escondido Police Department that neighborhoods be alerted by police when registered sex offenders return.

At press time Councilmember Marie Waldron had not returned our calls requesting comment, nor had Councilmember Olga Diaz. Councilman Sam Abed was in Washinton, D. C.

Back in March of 2002, when we first addressed this issue, then Escondido Chief of Police Duane White said they only did that for the high risk sex offenders. While acknowledging that he had legal authority under Megan’s Law to notify neighborhoods about serious sex offenders he indicated that the department has chosen not to take that course and seldom, if ever, notifies neighborhoods when a serious sex offender moves into the area.

"The public should absolutely be warned," says parent and activist Mark Klass, who lost his own daughter, Polly, to a sex offender.
In the 2002 issue we reported there were 93,000 registered sex offenders in California. That figures had dropped to 85,000, about 22,000 of which are not listed on the Megan’s List Internet Roster but that are known to police; and 2,715, about four percent of the 63,000 that are on the public list, live in San Diego County.

Despite the large number of offenders living in the county, and the fact that even the state department of corrections believes these sex offenders will most likely strike again, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and local police departments have no policy of warning the public.

A Law With No Execution Is No Law At All

What infuriates people more than anything else is the lack of notification about sex offenders. California's Megan's Law requires offenders to register, but it's up to the local police to let you know.

Megan's Law - Frequently Asked Questions

Why are local law enforcement agencies assigned the responsibility to determine when to notify the public about a high-risk or serious registered sex offender?

Local law enforcement is considered to be in the best position to determine what level and method of notification is appropriate for their community.

What is the criteria to be designated a "high-risk" sex offender for which community notice may be given?

Megan's Law requires the California Department of Justice to distribute a CD-ROM or other electronic medium containing specific information on all "serious" and "high-risk" sex offenders which is updated monthly. Generally, a "high-risk" sex offender is an individual convicted of multiple violent crimes, at least one of which was a violent sex crime. Additionally, at the time of assessment, there must have been specified criminal activity within the last five years, not counting time in custody. The criteria for "high-risk" sex offenders is provided in Penal Code Section 290(n).

A "serious" sex offender is an individual convicted of at least one of the following charges: assault with intent to commit rape, oral copulation, or sodomy; rape; sodomy with a minor or by force; lewd or lascivious conduct with a child or a dependent adult; oral copulation with a minor or by force; continuous sexual abuse of a child; child molestation; penetration with a foreign object by force; kidnaping with intent to commit specified sex offenses; felony sexual battery; felony enticement of a child for purposes of prostitution; abduction of a child for purposes of prostitution.

"Other" sex offenders are required to register, but are not subject to disclosure under Megan's Law. These other sex offenders are individuals convicted of pornography, exhibitionism, misdemeanor sexual battery, incest or spousal rape (Specifically PC 262(a)(1)). Additionally, sex offenders adjudicated in juvenile court are not subject to public disclosure.

Registered Sex Offenders (Megan's Law)

California for more than 50 years has required dangerous sex offenders to register with their local law enforcement agencies. However, information on the whereabouts of these sex offenders was not available to the public until the implementation of the Child Molester Identification Line in July 1995. The information available was further expanded by California's Megan's Law in 1996 (Chapter 908, Stats. of 1996).

Now, California's Megan's Law arms the public with certain information on the whereabouts of dangerous sex offenders so that local communities may protect themselves and their children. The law also authorizes local law enforcement to notify the public about high-risk and serious sex offenders who reside in, are employed in, or frequent the community.

The law is not intended to punish the offender and specifically prohibits using the information to harass or commit any crime against the offender. It recognizes that public safety is best served when registered sex offenders are not concealing their location to avoid harassment.

How to Obtain Information

Megan's Law makes available to adults and organizations information on "serious" and "high-risk" sex offenders in their local community. The information on a registered sex offender includes:

• Name and known aliases;
• Age and sex;
• Physical description, including scars, marks and tattoos;
• Photograph, if available;
• Crimes resulting in registration;
• County of residence;
• Zip code
(based on last registration).

What You Can Do

Elected officials respond to pressures from the electorate. If you feel that we ought to:

A. Require that the police departments should follow through, and as a matter of policy as well as law, notify neighborhoods when a registered sexual offender is released within their neighborhood, then contact your local City Councilmember, your County Supervisor, your State Senator, and your State Assemblyman. Tell them exactly what you want to see done. If they hear from enough of you and know they have the support and the mandate from the electorate, it will get done.

It appears that the consensus is that legislative officials need to fix the following:
• Ensure that neighbors are notified when any registered sex offender moves into the neighborhood.
• State Legislators need to amend that portion of Megan’s Law that exempts registered sex offenders from being listed on the public/Internet listing. Child molesters, offenders that physically restrain and rape anyone, and those that expose themselves . . . should absolutely not be exempt; we need to know who they are and if they are in our neighborhoods! No one should be exposed to this type of offender and the law is protecting them, not members of the public.
• Simplify Section 290 of the Penal Code. It takes a battery of Philadelphia lawyers to figure it out. It handcuffs our police departments.
• Rewrite Section 209 to provide for required enforcement of the law for those on probation or parole; presently, it is optional with police departments. They don’t like it; neither does the electorate.
• One year in prison for sex offenders? That’s a slap on the wrist! State legislators need to get meaningful punishment with long term jail sentences.
• State law needs to be revised to mandate that judges execute long prison terms for sex offenders.

Your representatives

City of Escondido:
Mayor Lori Pfeiler
Mayor Pro Tem Dick Daniels
Marie Waldron
Sam Abed
Olga Diaz
Phone: (760) 741 4638

City of San Marcos:
Mayor Jim Desmond
Hal Martin
Mike Preston
Rebecca Jones
Chris Orlando
Phone: (760) 744 4020

City of Vista:
Mayor Morris Vance
Mayor Pro Tem Judy Ritter
Bob Campbell
Steve Gronke
Frank Lopez, Jr.
Phone: (760) 639 6130
FAX (760) 639 6232

City of Carlsbad:
Mayor Claude A. "Bud" Lewis
Mayor Pro-Tem Ann J. Kulchin
Matt Hall
Mark Packard
Keith Blackburn
Phone: (760) 434 2830
FAX (760) 720 9462
email: council@ci.carlsbad.ca.us

City of Oceanside
Mayor Jim Wood
Jack Feller
Jerome Kern
Esther Sanchez
760) 435-3029
FAX (760) 435-3045

County Supervisors
Pam Slater-Price 3rd District
619.234.1559 (FAX)
Bill Horn - 5th District
Diane Jacob - 2nd District
696.7273 (FAX)
(619) 531 5533, or, toll-free
(800) 852 7334

signState Elected Officials
Senator Mark Wyland
Phone: 760.931.2455
Fax: 760.931.2477
Assemblyman Martin Garrick
760-929-7998, 760-929-7999
Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher
916.319.2075 Andrew Kiefer, Chief of Staff





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