Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted down a motion calling for the sheriff and district attorney to notify them before sexually violent predators were released into Los Angeles-area communities.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger first announced her plan to call for more transparency surrounding the release of sexual violent predators on June 11 after Superior Court Judge James Bianco blocked a plan for Calvin Grassmier to be placed in La Crescenta, KTTV reported.
Grassmier was sentenced to 15 years in state prison after he was convicted of multiple sex-related crimes in 1989.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Grassmier was committed to the California Department of State Hospitals as a “sexually violent predator” in 1999 and sent to a secure medical facility, KTTV reported.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) Sheriff Alex Villanueva had objected to Grassmier’s release into La Crescenta.
“Releasing violent sexual predators, such as Calvin Grassmier, into our communities makes us all less safe, as well as places an unnecessary burden on public safety resources,” Sheriff Villanueva said in a statement he submitted to the court urging the judge to block the move.
Grassmier’s attorney, Tony Corti, said his client’s release was ordered in November of 2020 on the condition that he receive community treatment when he got out, but he was still incarcerated because they needed someplace to release him, KTTV reported.
“Mr. Grassmier is not the same person that he was in 1988… He’s a changed man,” Corti claimed.
Corti said his client was “ready to begin his new life” in the 5000-block Freeman Avenue in La Crescenta and “intends on complying with everything,” KTTV reported.
The defense attorney told the judge his sex offender client would have “constant supervision.”
But Bianco said there were too many factors that posed challenges to the plan, including unreliable cell phone service required for GPS monitoring of Grassmier, KTTV reported.
The judge said he had “great confidence” an appropriate placement could be found for the 66-year-old convicted sex offender, but said “didn’t agree with this particular location” in La Crescenta.
On June 21, Barger made the motion that called for the board of supervisors to always be notified before a sexual predator was released into the community, KTTV reported.
She proposed that LASD and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office be mandated to notify the board member who represented the district where the sexual predator was moving and be given their specific location.
Under California law, state hospitals are already required to notify the local sheriff or district attorney when they are planning to release a sexually violent predator in a community, according to KTTV.
The law then gives the sheriff the legal authority to notify “any person designated by the sheriff or chief of police as an appropriate recipient of the notice.”
Barger’s proposal would have mandated the notification of the board, KTTV reported.
But her motion never even got consideration from the board of supervisors.
Los Angeles County Supervisors Hilda Solis, Holly Mitchell, and Sheila Kuehl broke with tradition and voted against the motion without even discussing it or allowing public comment from members of the affected communities, KTTV reported.
Usually the five-member board of supervisors allows more action on controversial agenda items prior to voting on them.
“This potential placement was a grave concern for me, the impacted residents and the community at large who mobilized and expressed their strong concerns,” Barger explained.
Solis, Mitchell, and Kuehl refused to comment on their reasoning for killing the proposal, KTTV reported.
But critics said the move came as no surprise because the board of supervisors used a “care first, jails last” philosophy focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
Board members have championed providing community support to newly-released inmates, KTTV reported.
Barger expressed disappointment in her fellow board members and vowed to continue to push aggressively for advanced notification for her constituents.
“It is essential that placements of sexually violent predators into local communities are made with the collaboration of all those impacted to ensure that appropriate services are provided and public safety is ensured,” she said. “I am disappointed that my colleagues have chosen to turn their backs on what should be a fair and equitable process to provide a voice for everyone involved.”