LANCASTER – Several elected officials are calling on local residents to oppose the potential placement of yet another sexually violent predator in the Antelope Valley community.
At a Nov. 5 hearing, the Orange County Superior Court will consider Lancaster as a possible placement location for Lawtis Donald Rhoden, a sexually violent predator with multiple sexual assault convictions and a history of reoffending.
The proposed placement address for Rhoden is 48040 25th Street East, which is approximately eight miles from the closest Sheriff’s station. The location is also a considerable distance from any support programs and essential care services, and the rural terrain has unreliable cell phone and GPS service, which would be problematic for the 24/7 monitoring that will be necessary to ensure community safety.
“Enough is enough,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “This is becoming an issue of equity and we cannot allow the North County to be a recurrent location for violent criminals who have no nexus or connection to the area.”
“The city of Lancaster will not stand for having sexually violent predators like Rhoden shipped here from Orange County or elsewhere,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Join us in speaking out and keeping Lancaster safe for our families.”
This is the second proposed placement of a sexually violent predator in the Antelope Valley in the past several months, following the release of Calvin Grassmier who was recently placed in the Sun Village / Littlerock area.
“The Antelope Valley is not the state’s dumping ground for convicted sex offenders yet the administration is considering placement of yet another one into our community… When is enough is enough?” said Senator Scott Wilk. “Like many areas of California, this is a family community and like many other family communities, we do not want our neighborhoods overrun with sexually violent predators.”
Rhoden was convicted of rape, sexual assault, and sexual battery in California, Florida, and Tennessee. He served time in prison and then transferred to the California Department of State Hospitals. For the California crimes, Rhoden was tried in both Orange and Los Angeles counties. Orange County courts cite the existence of “extraordinary circumstances” that prevent his placement in Orange County, but believe the city of Lancaster is an option.
“Lancaster will not be a haven for violent criminals. We are calling on our community to take a stand with us,” said Lancaster Vice Mayor Marvin Crist. “We owe it to the young people of Lancaster to fight for their safety. My fellow City Council Members stand together in opposition to the mere suggestion of sending Rhoden here and putting our youth at risk.”
How to take action
Officials are urging local residents to voice their concerns with the Orange County Court in advance of the placement hearing, which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 5, at the Orange County Superior Court. Concerns and comments should be sent before Oct. 19, to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which is compiling all submissions to share with the court and the Department of State Hospitals.
Comments can be submitted via email to Rhoden.Comments@da.lacounty.gov or via mail to: Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Attn: Jay S. Grobeson, Deputy District Attorney, 9425 Penfield Ave., #3210, Chatsworth, CA 91311.
More information on Rhoden, including his crimes and the next steps in the placement process, can be found on the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s website at: https://da.lacounty.gov/sexually-violent-predators.