Bay Area rapist ordered by judge to move to this county

BONNY DOON, California (KRON) – Bonny Doon residents were in tears Monday at the courthouse in Santa Cruz County when a judge approved placing a sexually violent predator on their street.

Judge Syda Cogliati’s decision allows convicted rapist Michael Cheek to move into a two-story house on 310 Wild Iris Lane. The shock spread through a packed courtroom at Monday’s court hearing.

Cheek, 69, is originally from Concord.

Cheek was convicted of multiple rapes in Contra Costa County and Santa Cruz County in the 1980s. At one point, he escaped from custody and raped a 15-year-old girl with a weapon.

Cogliati’s decision went against strong objections from Santa Cruz County Sheriff, District Attorney and Supervisor.

Sheriff Jim Hart said he was “outraged” at the judge’s decision.

“I am very disappointed with the decision that was made today. This location is in a remote region of our county, where response times are delayed and mobile service is poor. Cheek’s only connection to our county is that he committed a vicious sexual assault in Santa Cruz. He has never lived here, nor does he have any other social ties. This causes fear among our residents and a lack of confidence in our local justice system, ”Hart said.

Michael Thomas Cheek
Michael Thomas Cheek, convicted sexual predator

Several children and teenage girls live on Wild Iris Lane.

Assistant District Attorney Alex Byers told the judge, “He wants to be surrounded by people who look like his victims.”

“Mr. Cheek is a career sex offender. He kidnaps children. He has a mental illness that predisposes him to commit sexual violent crimes,” Byers said.

A 14-year-old girl and her four younger siblings live directly across the street from 310 Wild Iris Lane. Her father, Joe Brennan, told KRON4 that he has no choice but to move his family to a new home.

“My daughter had to walk past the driveway every day to go to and from school. Alone. In the woods, “said Brennan,” to put this guy here at the expense of the state, and to hell with everyone else living nearby, that’s ridiculous and unfair. “

County Chief Ryan Coonerty said it is “completely inappropriate” to house Cheek in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Coonerty said taxpayers will pay an estimated $ 6,500 each month for Cheeks’ rent under the state’s supervised release program for sexually violent predators.

The district attorney said Monday he will appeal to the Sixth District Court.

The judge had received nearly 1,000 letters from residents urging her not to let Cheek enter their community. Cogliati said public opinion did not influence her decision.

Liberty Healthcare is the state body responsible for supervising sexually violent predators after they are released from prison. Cameron Zeidler, a psychologist at Liberty, said Cheek will not insult him because he will be monitored by security, receive outpatient treatment for sex offenders and has a desire not to return to prison.

District Attorney Jeff Rosell said it is impossible to supervise anyone in the house chosen by Liberty because it is an extremely remote location in the mountains.

Cheek was serving his full prison sentence and was due to be released back into the community two years ago. A plan to house Cheek in Redwood City was abandoned earlier this year after the homeowner withdrew her offer.

Bonny Doon residents said they tried to talk to the homeowner of 310 Wild Iris Lane, but she refused.

“She’s a coward. She does not want to talk to anyone,” Brennan said.

On Monday, the judge said Cheek should live somewhere and she would not delay his housing placement further.

Sheriff Hart said: “The sheriff’s office will do everything we can to keep the Bonny Doon community safe from this predator.”

Brennan said the judge’s decision caused him to lose faith in the justice system.

“The way to solve this, not this specific location, but to fix the system, is that there are articles of law that need to be changed. This is happening everywhere in California where Liberty places people. If people do not think it’s right, they are. have to write to the state legislature and make demands so that these people do not destroy neighborhoods, ”he said.

Last month, the East Palo Alto Police Department warned the local community that a sexually violent predator, Lamar Johnson, would be released from prison and placed in the city.

Johnson has a hearing on Dec. 1 at 9 of the San Mateo County Superior Court Hall of Justice, Department 24. The District Attorney’s Office said members of the public are allowed to express their concerns at the hearing.

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