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Concern over Menifee sex-offender caregivers

October 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A growing number of sex offenders is causing concern in the retirement community of Sun City, in Menifee, located in southwest Riverside County.The Menifee City Council is considering an ordinance that would restrict sex offenders from not entering the city library and other public spaces.

Sun City is a retirement haven for the 55-year-old-and-over crowd. Some residents there hope it won't become a haven for another group.

"We are concerned about the level and the number of sexual predators that appear to be congregating and residing in our Sun City core," said Menifee City Councilman Scott Mann.

Mann represents the city of Menifee. He said of the 166 registered sex offenders in the city, 99 reside in the senior community, many of them working as caregivers for the elderly.

"I think it's kind of scary to have them coming out in this area, especially with the elderly," said Sun City resident Denise Espinoza.

The Menifee Public Safety Committee is looking to solve the problem by tightening residency restrictions. Already, sex offenders are prohibited from going within 2,000 feet of schools and parks where children are.

"We need to explore options to try to make that more stringent, whether that be expanding the zone of residency around community centers and the libraries and areas where not only children congregate, but seniors as well," said Mann.

Mann also wants to mandate background checks as part of the licensing for caregivers, something that caregivers like Linda Richie say is a good idea.

"Being a caregiver, that gives us a bad name, you know? We have to prove ourselves," said Ritchie.

"I think that's a good idea, I really do," said Espinoza. "The more intense background checks on the caregivers, I think that's a great idea."

Mann says he understands sex-offenders need to live and work in the city. He also said the city needs to strike a balance to keep the public safe. Meanwhile, that ordinance is still in the drafting stages and not expected to be taken up for consideration by the city council until January.


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