SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Neighbors in Bonny Doon are outraged over the placement of a convicted sex offender who did his time. On Monday, a Santa Cruz County judge ruled to allow him to reside in a home in a remote area of Bonny Doon on Wild Iris Lane.
The offender has no ties to Santa Cruz County other than one of his assaults occurred in Santa Cruz.
Neslted in a heavily wooded area of Bonny Doon is a 2,400 square foot, two story home. It’s across from a playground and near a school. Neighbors are not happy about who’s moving in.
"It’s crazy," said Bonny Doon School Board President Michael Geluardi. "It doesn’t make any sense. It’s insane, the idea that the state would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to house a sexually violent predator."
The home on Wild Iris Lane is where a Santa Cruz County judge said 69-year-old Michael Cheek can live.
Back in 1980, Cheek of Concord visited Santa Cruz, abducted and sexually assaulted a woman he met at Seabright Beach. He was convicted and later raped a 15-year-old.
"We need the state to look at this entire system putting sexually violent predators into neighborhoods without notice or giving a voice to the community or law enforcement for their ability to monitor is incredibly problematic," said Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty.
Cheek is currently at Atascadero State Hospital. He will be wearing a GPS monitor. The sheriff’s office worries about limited WiFi and frequent power outages.
"Our concern is that if we lose that connectivity with him, he’s going to be in a rural area kind of free rein to do what he wants," said Sgt. Daniel Robbins of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.
Bonny Doon’s school board president attended Monday’s court ruling and said the judge’s rationale, Cheek has qualified for conditional release for two years and been unable to find a home. If this is rejected, Cheek has asked to be released as a transient.
"The way the judge framed it, it would be hard to say no because he’s waited so long for his justice and that would be worse in her opinion for society than this," said Geluardi.
Next door neighbor Joe Brennan with six kids is moving. His 14-year-old daughter walks past the house to the school bus.
"I don’t think any reasonable parent would feel like that’s okay and I don’t so unfortunately we will have to leave," said Brennan. "We’ve already reached out to several rental properties."
It’s unclear what will happen to Wild Iris Private School. Brennan runs it and a handful of students go there.
"I’m not going to put going to put my kids in a situation where they are going to have to walk in fear every day," said Brennan.
The district attorney is planning to appeal the judge’s ruling. Community members hope today’s decision will be overturned.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.