It would require law enforcement to be involved in the selection of placement locations and a priority on community safety.
“Sexually violent predators have committed some of the most heinous crimes imaginable,” said Maienschein, whose 77th Assembly District includes Rancho Bernardo and Poway. “More safeguards need to be in place to prevent these individuals, who are still under the jurisdiction of the court and receiving treatment, from being housed in areas that can pose a danger to public safety.”
Assembly Bill 1641 is in response to the proposed placement of Douglas Badger, a convicted sexually violent predator, in a family neighborhood in Rancho Bernardo last September, according to Maienschein.
Community uproar got Badger’s placement halted within days. But to prevent a similar situation from happening again, residents and elected leaders have said during multiple community meetings that the state’s placement procedures must be changed through legislation.
Assembly Bill 1641’s provisions include preventing a sexually violent predator from being housed within a quarter-mile of a school, daycare, park or community center where youth activities are regularly held.
A sexually violent predator is an individual convicted of a sexual offense that the court deems likely to reoffend, making them a danger to the health and safety of others. They are committed to a state hospital until the court determines their qualification for conditional or unconditional release. Those who qualify for a conditional release program are placed in the community while receiving ongoing treatment.
Despite this oversight, there are very few limitations on where these offenders can be placed, according to a press release from Maienschein’s office.
His bill would also require sexually violent predators to be GPS monitored, allow for an extended conditional release duration and ensure law enforcement are an active participant in the selection process of housing for them.
In addition, AB 1641 would protect victims by allowing previous statements and other forms of evidence to be used in preliminary phases of the sexually violent predator hearing process.
Rancho Bernardo community members were able to stop Badger’s placement quickly because they alerted the house’s owners to Badger’s history and other neighborhood details. In response, the homeowners announced Oct. 1 they had canceled their lease agreement with Liberty Healthcare, which was handling the placement.
They also notified the Hon. Theodore M. Weathers of San Diego Superior Court, who was to preside over the Oct. 29 placement hearing, that they did not support Badger’s placement at their property.
The house on Frondoso Drive overlooks the Country Club of Rancho Bernardo golf course and is not far from the RB Swim & Tennis Club and Chaparral Elementary School in Poway.
Despite these neighborhood features and Badger’s conviction on numerous counts of sexual assault, the State of California proposed he be placed to live in the family neighborhood.
Badger was convicted of the sexual assaults of males and females, with convictions in 1981 in Riverside County and 1990 in San Diego County. He has a history of assaulting young male hitchhikers at gunpoint. He was convicted of offenses that include child molestation, kidnapping and forcible oral copulation, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
He was released from prison a second time in 1997 and spent most of the past two dozen years in maximum-security state hospitals, participating in a sex offender treatment program. Badger has also been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and sexual sadism, according to officials.
“The case of Douglas Badger defied logic and highlighted the flaws in the system,” Maienschein said after introducing AB 1641. “I am pleased that we were able to join together as a community to fight the proposed placement, but there is still work be done to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
Last fall, Rancho Bernardo and Poway residents were joined by elected leaders from the City of San Diego, county, state and Poway Unified School District in voicing opposition and outrage over Badger’s proposed placement.
While it was the first time a sexually violent predator placement was proposed in the Rancho Bernardo/Poway area, early last year La Mesa residents faced with the same situation with Badger. Seeing how each community had to individually fight placing a sexually violent predator in a residential neighborhood with children present emphasized that legal changes are needed, according to discussions at community meetings.
This topic was the focus of a panel discussion during a Rancho Bernardo Community Council meeting last October that included elected representatives among the speakers.
The RB council sent a letter to many elected officials requesting an amendment to the California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 6608 so local government entities can fully participate in the placement and vetting process.