Santa Cruz judge denies general ‘transient’ release to [former] “sexually violent predator”

SANTA CRUZ — The bid to release a twice-convicted rapist into the community without a set, permanent residence failed Tuesday.

Bonny Doon residents rallied at the County Courthouse in November to speak out against "sexually violent predator" Michael Cheek being housed on Wild Iris Lane. (Shmuel Thaler -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)
Bonny Doon residents rallied at the county courthouse in November to speak out against “sexually violent predator” Michael Cheek being housed on Wild Iris Lane. (Shmuel Thaler — Santa Cruz Sentinel file) 

Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Syda Cogliati ruled against a “transient release” petition by 71-year-old Michael Cheek, designated by the state as a sexually violent offender. In November, Cogliati approved Cheek to move under supervised release into a rental home on rural Iris Lane in Bonny Doon, a decision the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office later appealed to the California Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Final arguments in that appeal concluded Oct. 11 and a decision by the court is due within 90 days.

“As I view it, the transient release is always the backdrop to the ongoing and egregious due process violation that Mr. Cheek continues to suffer, 38 months after this court ordered him released with a designation that he is not a threat to society,” said defense attorney Stephen Prekoski, representing Cheek.

Prekoski filed the transient release petition July 25. In subsequent months, state authorities and attorneys in the case have met on several occasions to discuss potential alternative housing locations for Cheek — both in and out of Santa Cruz County. One location under consideration is in Butte County north of Sacramento, where Cheek has family members, officials said. The group also discussed potentially placing a trailer on property at the Rountree Rehabilitation & Re-Entry Facility in Watsonville and the state-owned Ben Lomond Fire Conservation Camp, according to court discussions Tuesday. The state-contracted Liberty Healthcare Corp., given responsibility to conduct site assessments on proposed housing sites, is actively searching out options in 12 counties, Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Alex Byers said.

Continued at source

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