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11 sex offenders live in O.C. neighborhood

March 31, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A total of 11 registered sex offenders, all convicted of sex crimes against children or teenagers, are living in an Orange County neighborhood. And although authorities are increasing patrols, neighbors aren't too happy.Neighbors distributed photos of the registered sex offenders that live in an Anaheim home. The neighbors held a meeting Tuesday night to discuss the issue. More than 100 people turned out for the meeting. Police are increasing patrols in the area and a neighborhood watch program is being developed because of the new neighbors.

The quiet neighborhood in Anaheim is home to five registered sex offenders. The men moved into the large house on North Meadowlark a few weeks ago. Six other convicted child molesters have lived for a few months in another home just an eighth of a mile away on North Rutherford. The 11 sex offenders are living next to dozens of families with children.

"They do have to live somewhere but the idea of six of them in one house in your own neighborhood where you're living, it makes me and I'm sure it makes almost everyone in this neighborhood uncomfortable," said neighbor Nicole Navarro.

According to the Megan's Law Web site, most of the men were convicted of lewd acts with children under 14. One was also convicted of sex crimes with a teenager. Another was convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child.

When asked how they could be sure that the offenders wouldn't repeat their acts, Anaheim Police Sergeant Tim Schmidt responded, "I don't, there's no way to be sure. There's nobody to be able to tell you that that these guys will not reoffend."

Eyewitness News tried to ask the registered sex offenders for comment but nobody came to answer the door. The houses are rented and run by the Holy Ground Christian Fellowship in Buena Park.

"It's far better, far safer for the community to have them in this situation rather than out there as transients where nobody knows where they're at," said Pastor Martin Lopez of the Holy Ground Christian Fellowship.

Church officials said the sex offenders have no live-in supervision but they wear GPS units through parole and must sign out when they leave the house.

"I think it's sad. It's sad that they can bring them to where there are a lot of children up and down the street," said Randy Stubblefield of Anaheim.

"If we felt in our heart that these men were dangerous I would never put them in that neighborhood," said Betsy Mata, director of Holy Ground Christian Fellowship.

Under state law, as many as six registered sex offenders can live together in a group home. Police say the men have not broken the law but it is still small comfort for residents.

"I really wish they would take the hint and leave," said Navarro.

Since no laws are being broken, police say that the only thing residents can really do is to be vigilant, report anything suspicious and report concerns to the police. Meanwhile, the child molesters who live over on Meadowlark may be moving soon according to church officials. That house is being sold and they are now looking for another place for those people to move to but no time frame has been given.