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California officials are trying for the third time since 2021 to deport the sexually violent predator

For the third time in recent years, officials are considering placing Merle Wakefield, a sexually violent predator, in a San Diego County community — this time in Poway.

Wakefield’s location has been a challenge, with a proposed site in Mount Helix drawing swift and loud criticism from nearby residents in 2021 and another being shelved later that year so Wakefield could receive more treatment.

This week, a new home was proposed for him at 15720 Sycamore Canyon Road, north of the Goodan Ranch Reservation. A strong resistance is already building up.

Merle Wade Wakefield, 67, has been recommended by the California Department of State Hospitals for placement in a home at 15720 Sycamore Canyon Road in Poway. (San Diego County Sheriff’s Department) Courtesy of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

If approved, Wakefield, 67, would become the eighth sexually violent predator housed in a San Diego County community.

A hearing to discuss the proposed placement has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 9 in Ward 1704 with San Diego Superior Court Judge Yvonne Campos. Public comments will be accepted until July 22 by email at [email protected], by phone at (858) 583-7238 or by mail addressed to the SVP Release/SAFE Task Force at 9425 Chesapeake Drive, San Diego, CA , 92123 .

Depending on the court’s ruling, comments may also be accepted during the August hearing.

Community members and elected officials did not wait to object.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said Wakefield’s location would be a “ticking time bomb” because the proposed home is near several horse facilities where women and girls often train.

“Poway will stand together to say: Not here, not now, never ever!” he said of the place.

Resident Amanda Corona, who lives on a street near the proposed site, said in an email that an elementary school, popular trailheads and parks are all a mile or two near Wakefield’s proposed address. She said the placement would pose risks “to the safety of our community, especially to our children and families who visit these areas.”

The proposal was also criticized by both county Supervisor Joel Anderson and Republican Representative Darrell Issa, whose district includes Poway.

“California state government continues to force these predators into residential areas along with parents, children and seniors,” Issa said. “There is a much better solution than the current broken system that tries to force communities to accept the relocation of dozens of these violent predators.”

In November, Issa introduced the law to stop sexually violent predators.

The bill amends an existing law — the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act — and, if passed, would effectively ban the placement of sexually violent predators by prohibiting states from spending federal taxpayer dollars on people with that designation outside of a correctional or secure facility. medical facility.

Most, if not all, sexually violent predators receive federally funded health care, and by limiting where states can administer that care, the law makes community placements far less likely, if not impossible.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Wakefield was convicted in 1981 of committing indecent acts with a minor under the age of 14. In 1990, Wakefield was convicted of rape by force, violence or fear. He ended up in jail in both cases.

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