EL CAJON, Calif. — After weeks of protest from community members and local leaders, a judge has ruled that a second man deemed a “sexually violent predator” by the state will not be placed in an East County home.
Douglas Badger, 78, will not be allowed to live under supervision in the Mount Helix neighborhood near El Cajon, the San Diego Superior Court announced Thursday.
Sexually violent predators — sometimes referred to as “SVPs” — are people convicted of sexually violent offenses and diagnosed with a mental disorder that makes them considered likely to strike again. In Badger’s case, he was convicted in the 80s and 90s of holding up young male hitchhikers at gunpoint and assaulting them.
He was the second sex predator deemed unfit for the East County home in recent weeks. Neighbors praised the May 10 decision to deny 64-year-old SVP Merle Wade Wakefield placement in the community, but had continued their fight against Badger being moved to the same address.
“Although the court is fully aware of the difficulty that exists in finding proper appropriate housing for conditionally released sexual predators … the court finds the residence of 10957 Horizon Hills Drive, El Cajon, CA is not suitable for Petitioner,” the decision reads, in part. “The court request that Liberty Healthcare search for a more suitable residence.”
After serving their prison sentences, sexually violent predators can make an appeal to have outpatient treatment and be placed in a supervised home. That practice has led to community outcry in East County, where neighbors say they are tired of the convicted criminals being placed in their area.
In recent weeks, local politicians have seized on the issue as well, with Supervisor Joel Anderson declaring the region a “dumping grounds” for predators and state Sen. Brian Jones, R-Santee, recently introducing legislation aimed at curbing the practice.
In its decision, the court specifically noted community concerns about the number of kids in the area.
“It is clear from the many comments made by members of the public as well as the court’s own observations that the Mount Helix community, which includes Horizon Hills Drive, is a densely populated suburban neighborhood consisting of many families and children,” the decision reads. “One community member advised the court that 89 children live within 2000 feet of the proposed address.”
The explanation continues: “The court heard from a resident who teaches piano in her home and was concerned about the children who walk to her home for lessons. Several neighbors advised the court that they themselves had been the victims of sexual assault and were traumatized by the idea of a sexual offender living nearby.”
The public comments noted in the decision came in part from community members participating in public hearings on the process. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office recently threw its weight behind legislation that would strengthen the guarantees around those hearings remaining accessible.