BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
UPDATE, 7 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 10 — The owner of the Redwood City home who was planning to rent a room to a violent sex offender rescinded her offer, authorities said yesterday (Feb. 9).
Residents of the Emerald Hills and Canyon neighborhoods were given a flyer on Thursday about the release of Michael Cheek, 69.
Cheek was found guilty of the kidnapping and rape of a 21-year-old girl in Santa Cruz County in 1980 and the gunpoint rape of a 15-year-old girl in Lake County in 1981. He’s served his time for both convictions.
The flyer from San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos and Redwood City Police Chief Dan Mulholland warned that a Santa Cruz County judge, Stephen Siegel, had tentatively ruled that Cheek would move into a home on the 800 block of Hillcrest Drive.
Social media went ablaze, with residents upset Cheek would be moving nearby.
At Redwood City Council’s Monday night meeting, Elise Dixon said several teenage girls live on that street including next door to where Cheek was going to live.
But in a statement yesterday, police said that the property owner had withdrawn the offer to house Cheek.
Sheriff’s Lt. Eamonn Allen told the Post yesterday that he is not aware of any other locations in the county that are being considered for Cheek.
How the process works
Under state law, people who are convicted of certain violent sex crimes are evaluated before their release from prison to see if they meet the criteria for being classified as a “sexually violent predator.” The criteria include being diagnosed with a mental disorder that makes the person likely to commit additional violent sex crimes.
If they meet the criteria, the offender is committed to a state mental hospital. The offender can then petition the court once a year to be released. The Department of State Hospitals, or DSH, can also recommend the release of an offender.
A judge must sign off on the release and choose which county will get the offender.
Once a county is picked, the DSH lets officials in that county know and they’re invited to create a housing search committee. If the county declines to do so, DSH searches, looking at housing ads, talking to real estate agents and driving around neighborhoods. The department contacts property owners to see if they are willing to rent to a sex offender.
DSH said it checks the distance from the home to schools and parks and determines the ages of children living in the neighborhood.
If a judge gives preliminary approval to a housing site, neighbors are then notified and a date is set for a court hearing.
DSH said that it pays for the housing of sexually violent predators. It’s not clear why the judge in Santa Cruz decided to allow Cheek to move to San Mateo County.
Earlier story published on Friday: ‘Sexually violent predator’ is moving here
Both the Redwood City police chief and the San Mateo County sheriff are opposing a Santa Cruz judge’s tentative ruling that a man deemed a “sexually violent predator” can move to Redwood City’s Emerald Hills neighborhood.
Michael Thomas Cheek, 69, was found guilty of the kidnapping and rape of a 21-year-old woman in Santa Cruz County in 1980 and in 1981 was found guilty in Lake County for the rape of a 15-year-old girl with the use of a firearm, according to a statement from Sheriff Carlos Bolanos and Police Chief Dan Mulholland.
Cheek was found by juries in 1997 and 2009 to be a “violent sexual predator,” according to the statement from Mulholland and Bolanos.
But in 2019, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Siegel ordered the conditional release of Cheek. Under the terms of his release, Cheek is to receive outpatient treatment and supervision in what’s described as the final stage of a “relapse prevention program” administered by the Department of State Hospitals.
Mulholland and Bolanos say in the statement that they “strongly object” to the order releasing Cheek to Redwood City.
Judge Siegel ruled that Cheek needs to live outside of the county where he committed the crimes and where he lived at the time of the crimes, according to the statement, and a judge determined he could be released to Redwood City.
However, the judge’s ruling is not set in stone, and a hearing will occur on March 1 at 9 a.m. Local law enforcement is asking residents to send input to the court, which can be sent to SVP_publiccomment@smcgov.org.
Police and sheriff’s deputies passed out information about Cheek’s potential placement in the area to residents in the Canyon and Emerald Hills neighborhoods Thursday.
Residents quickly posted about the notices on social media, including Nextdoor and Facebook. In the Facebook group “Redwood City Residents Say What?” a post about the notice had nearly 150 comments on it by 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
On the posting, residents expressed worry about Cheek being near schools, such as St. Mathias.
Others questioned why he is being released to Redwood City.