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Public Safety

Judge Rules Against Placement Of Second Sexually Violent Predator At Mount Helix Home

District 2 resident Sarah Thompson speaks about sex offenders being placed in East County homes, in El Cajon on April 28, 2021.
John Carroll
District 2 resident Sarah Thompson speaks about sex offenders being placed in East County homes, in El Cajon on April 28, 2021.

A judge has ruled that a 78-year-old second sexually violent predator recommended for supervised release at a residence in the Mount Helix neighborhood will not be placed at the home.

In a written ruling dated Wednesday and released by court officials on Thursday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Theodore Weathers said the home at 10957 Horizon Hills Drive would not be a suitable placement for Douglas Badger and state hospital officials will be tasked with finding another location to house him.

The ruling came nearly two weeks after another local judge, San Diego Superior Court Judge Albert Harutunian III, denied placement of a second sexually violent predator, Merle Wade Wakefield, at the same home.

Badger and Wakefield are classified as sexually violent predators, a designation for those convicted of sexually violent offenses and diagnosed with a mental disorder that makes them likely to re-offend.

RELATED: Supervisor Joel Anderson: Too Many Sex Offenders Are Being Placed In East County Homes

After serving their prison sentences, sexually violent predators may undergo treatment at state hospitals, but may also petition courts to continue treatment in supervised outpatient locations.

Parameters of conditional release include GPS monitoring and rules against venturing outside the home unless accompanied by a representative from Liberty Healthcare, which contracts with the state to supervise SVPs.

The Department of State Hospitals proposed placing both men at the Horizon Hills Drive home, to the dismay of neighborhood residents.

Harutunian rejected Wakefield's placement at the outset of a public hearing in which residents would have been allowed to air their grievances and concerns regarding the placement. The judge cited the home's location in a densely populated neighborhood and its close proximity to children in his decision.

In Badger's case, Weathers heard at a hearing last month from dozens of residents, many of whom expressed their concerns regarding the number of families in the surrounding neighborhood and a lack of law enforcement presence.

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office also opposed the placement, stating that the neighborhood differed greatly from prior SVP placements, which have typically been in communities that are remote and sparsely populated.

In his ruling, Weathers referenced the residents' concerns, along with the lack of sidewalks and public transportation in the neighborhood, which he wrote "would potentially present significant obstacles for persons with mobility issues, such as (Badger)."

County Supervisor Joel Anderson, whose district contains the Mount Helix neighborhood, praised the ruling.

"This is another great victory for our community," Anderson said. "Speaking together, we have made our voices heard, and I want to again thank San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan for her hard work and for listening to us on this issue.

"There is still more work to do," he said. "Over 60% of all SVPs have been placed in my district, which has more sexual offenders than any other district in San Diego County. We need to improve the process for notification and placement and there are accountability issues to further investigate."