06 Oct Supervisor Barger Urges Community Action to Respond to Potential Placement of Another Sexually Violent Predator in the Antelope Valley
Orange County Superior Court is considering a location in Lancaster for the placement of an SVP committed from the County of Orange
LOS ANGELES COUNTY —This week, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger was notified of an upcoming hearing in the Orange County Superior Court that will consider Lancaster as a possible placement location for Lawtis Donald Rhoden, a sexually violent predator with multiple sexual assault convictions and a history of reoffending. This is the second proposed placement of a sexually violent predator in the Antelope Valley in the past several months, following the release of Calvin Grassmier who was recently placed in the Sun Village / Littlerock area.
“Enough is enough,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the Antelope Valley region. “This is becoming an issue of equity and we cannot allow the North County to be a recurrent location for violent criminals who have no nexus or connection to the area. Lawtis Donald Rhoden is a sexually violent predator who has committed heinous crimes against women and girls across multiple regions over the past 50 years. The Orange County Superior Court determined Orange County as Rhoden’s official ‘place of domicile,’ and in 2019 ruled that he can be conditionally released to the community. Any proposed placements suggested by CONREP, the state contractor responsible for identifying possible locations, should be within Orange County. I find it hard to believe that none have been found, forcing the search to extend to Los Angeles and other surrounding counties.”
The proposed placement address for Rhoden is 48040 25th St East, Lancaster, CA 93535, which is approximately eight miles from the closest Sheriff’s station. The location is also a considerable distance from any support programs and essential care services. The rural terrain has unreliable cell phone and GPS service, which would be problematic for the 24/7 monitoring that will be necessary to ensure community safety.
Supervisor Barger is imploring the community to voice their concerns with the Orange County Court in advance of the placement hearing, which is scheduled for November 5, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. at the Orange County Superior Court.
Concerns and comments should be sent before October 19, 2021 to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who is compiling all submissions to share with the court, counsel for Mr. Rhoden, and the Department of State Hospitals.
Via email: Rhoden.Comments@da.lacounty.gov
Via mail: Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office,
Attn: Jay S. Grobeson, Deputy District Attorney
9425 Penfield Ave., #3210
Chatsworth, CA 91311
More information on Rhoden, including his crimes and the next steps in the placement process, can be found on the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s website here.
Background on the Sexually Violent Predator Act and the Placement of SVPs Post Release
The Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) Act enables the court to order the transfer of a prisoner at the end of their prison term to the Department of State Hospitals for a sex offender treatment program (participation in the treatment program is voluntary). Individuals released from the treatment program are either released directly to the community or to SVP CONREP, which is an intensive community-based treatment and monitoring program. The Department of State Hospitals contracts with Liberty Healthcare to provide SVP CONREP services. If the patient meets the legal criteria, the court will order CONREP to locate a residence for the SVP patient into the community in the county that was their domicile when they became an SVP.
Placements outside the county of domicile can occur if the court acknowledges extraordinary circumstances – as is the case for Rhoden. SVP CONREP then submits the potential residence to the Court for approval. After the 30-day period for public comment and a hearing, the court may order placement of the patient to the residence. For more information, please see the California Department of State Hospitals fact sheet found here.