Fire ravaged town shouldn’t be a dumping ground for out-of-town sex offenders
SACRAMENTO – Today, Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) called on the Santa Cruz County Superior Court to deny the placement of Sexually Violent Predator Michael Cheek in the Town of Paradise. Cheek has multiple rape and kidnapping convictions and previously escaped from prison.
In their letter to the court, Gallagher and LaMalfa noted that state law, authored by Gallagher in 2017, requires offenders such as Cheek to be placed either in their last county of residence or a county where they have family, residential or employment ties. Michael Cheek, a resident of Santa Cruz County, has never lived in Butte County and has no ties to the area.
“Our home is not his hunting ground, and Cheek’s record proves he is a risk to the entire Town of Paradise and Butte County. This violent sexual predator has no familial, residential, or employment connections in Butte County. There is no logical reason to place Cheek over 400 miles away from his legal place of residence, other than using rural California as a dumping ground for light-on-crime urban policies. This is still an area reeling from a destructive wildfire and struggling to rebuild. I urge the Court to keep Cheek in his area of last legal residence under stringent security – or better yet, in prison,” said Congressman LaMalfa.
“The Town of Paradise has been through enough. I’m not going to stand by while an out-of-county judge tries to turn it into a dumping ground for dangerous sex offenders,” said Gallagher. “Michael Cheek lived in Santa Cruz County, committed his crimes in Santa Cruz County, and should live in Santa Cruz County once he’s released.”
Cheek was first convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman in Santa Cruz in 1980. One year later he escaped, kidnapped a 15-year-old girl in Lake County, and raped her at gunpoint. In 1997, when Cheek was scheduled to be released, he was declared a Sexually Violent Predator and confined to a state hospital.
The Department of State Hospitals and its contractor, Liberty Healthcare Corp., have been trying to house Cheek in Butte County since 2020, despite objections from local law enforcement, concerned residents and elected officials. The home being proposed for Cheek, located at 1550 Gate Lane in Paradise, is less than one and a half miles from an elementary school and two churches, and 150 feet from a community bike path frequented by children and families.
A town hall meeting on the issue will be held tomorrow night at the Paradise Alliance Church on Clark Road at 6:30 p.m.
LaMalfa and Gallagher urge community members to voice their opposition to Cheek’s placement online or via mail to the Paradise Police Department at 5595 Black Olive Drive, Paradise, CA 95969.
The letter from Asm. Gallagher and Rep. LaMalfa is available HERE.