Sex offenders are said to be moving to the Redwood City neighborhood
The perpetrator is identified as Michael Thomas Cheek, 69, a twice convicted rapist. Debora Villalon reports.
REDWOOD CITY, California – – A Redwood City community mobilizes against the arrival of a new neighbor, a convicted sex predator.
And they have the local sheriff and chief of police on their side.
“I have daughters, I have granddaughters, and that’s not right,” said Stephanie Slade, who lives on Crestview Drive in the Emerald Hills area without legal personality.
“A sex offender, especially a violent sex offender, doesn’t belong in this quiet area.”
The perpetrator is identified as a twice convicted rapist.
Michael Thomas Cheek, 69.
Cheek has been incarcerated for 40 years, nearly half of them in a state hospital that has been classified as a “sexually violent predator”.
Recently, however, he was seen as a candidate for a supervised release.
A judge has tentatively approved Cheek’s placement in Redwood City.
“The house they are proposing is between neighbors who both have young girls. That is probably the worst situation,” said neighbor Dung Thai.
“There has to be a safer way to reintroduce him that isn’t in the middle of a neighborhood full of kids.”
On Thursday, law enforcement agencies fanned out, alerting the neighborhood and encouraging residents to share their views with the court.
MPs and police knocked on doors and handed out flyers at around 500 homes within a 2,000-foot radius of the proposed rental building.
“His crimes are horrible, absolutely horrible, why should someone like that leave prison,” said neighbor Kate Comfort.
Cheek was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 21-year-old woman in Santa Cruz County in 1980.
In 1981 he was convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl at gunpoint in Lake County.
“It’s frightening, I’m a single woman with a 24-year-old daughter, and now we’re worried about even walking the neighborhood,” said Comfort.
Sexually violent predators are a specific category of sex offenders who are detained beyond their sentence until they are determined to be rehabilitated and no longer pose a threat.
California currently has about 15 SVPs subject to clearance.
The state pays for surveillance – often with visits, anklets, drug tests, polygraphs, and restricted freedom.
“It makes me very nervous and anxious,” said a young woman named Jessica, who was too uncomfortable to give her last name.
“And people won’t spend that much time outside, they’ll just be very careful.”
Residents are urged to comment on Cheek’s fate ahead of a March 1 trial.
“Why take a risk and put ourselves at risk and create all this nervousness?” said Frank Fraone, who has two grown daughters who visit often.
Fraone made copies of the law enforcement leaflet to self-distribute.
He is concerned that people walking through the wooded neighborhood will not be informed.
And Fraone fears Cheek could become a target.
“If someone sees this person walking on their property or approaching their daughters, staring or staring at them, they can take matters into their own hands and they will be at risk too.”
Emerald Hills residents say their community is growing even closer together through their mutual opposition.
With families, schools, and parks nearby, they will try to convince the court that Michael Cheek is endangering their safety and peace of mind.
“Why can’t he live in a desert, why can’t he live where there are very few people?” Slade shrugged.
Debora Villalon is a reporter for KTVU. Email Debora at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @ DeboraKTVU.