Wilk Urges Orange County Courts to Deny Placement of Sexually Violent Predator in Lancaster

Today, Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) delivered strong remarks urging the Orange County Courts to deny placement of convicted sexually violent predator Lawtis Donald Rhoden in Lancaster during a public comment hearing held before Judge Megan L. Wagner.
Click here to read Senator Wilk's letter of opposition to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
Below are excerpts from Senator Wilk’s remarks today during the public comment hearing:
“The Antelope Valley is a suburban/rural setting and is a working-class, family-oriented community. Yet, the AV is housing a disproportionate number of the County’s sex offenders. Placement of yet another in our community is unfair.
“The numbers speak for themselves. Los Angeles County has a population of more than 10.4 million residents and, according to the Megan Law’s database, it also has nearly 14,000 registered sex offenders. That is one sex offender per every 770 residents.
“The City of Lancaster has a population of roughly 160,000 residents with 426 registered sex offenders. That is one sex offender for every 373 residents. The unincorporated area just to the south and east of Lancaster has one sex offender for every 50 residents!
“To put it quite frankly, the city of Lancaster has more than double the number of sex offenders per person than the county overall. That is unfair to the hard-working families, senior citizens, and businesses that I represent and a dangerous trend for our community.
“My constituents are painfully aware of the statistics. While we may already be more than twice as likely to encounter a convicted sex offender, placing another one, with a known violent history in our community – especially after just placing Calvin Grassmier here a month ago - puts us all at risk.
“Poor cell service and the long distance from the nearest law enforcement station increases the challenge for law enforcement to keep tabs on Rhoden.  
“Unfortunately, the AV has a long history of being exploited by downtown L.A.’s interests. Their businesses illegally dump trash in our pristine desert, homeless residents are provided one-way passes on the Metro-Link with the instruction to stay until the final Metro stop in Lancaster, and we receive far too many sexual offenders. It seems patently unjust that we ought to house a sexual offender from another county when we are already burdened by our own county. All we ask is to be treated fairly.
“Thank you for taking all of today’s testimony into consideration, and I pray you protect our community by ruling against placing Rhoden in Lancaster,” said Senator Wilk.
Convicted on multiple counts of rape, sexual battery, and sexual assaults in California, Florida, and Tennessee, Rhoden will be under the care of the state-funded company Liberty Healthcare once he is released, and the city of Lancaster is considered a potential placement.
Background on Senate Bill 1199
Senator Wilk introduced SB 1199, which Governor Brown signed into law in 2018. SB 1199 amended Section 3003 of the Penal Code to “require an inmate released on parole or post-release community supervision who was committed to prison for a registrable sex offense, to be returned through all efforts reasonably possible to the city that was the last legal residence of the inmate prior to incarceration, or otherwise to a close geographic location in which he or she has family, social ties, or other economic ties and access to reentry services, unless a return to that location would violate any other law or pose a risk to his or her victim.”