.Court to Consider ‘Transient Release’ for Convicted Sex Offender

For months, felon Michael Cheek's legal representation has fought to have him placed in a Bonny Doon home

A man convicted of raping multiple women in the early 1980s whose plan to live in Bonny Doon faced steep opposition is again seeking his freedom—this time without a permanent residence lined up.

Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Syda Cogliati said Monday that she would consider “transient release” for Michael Cheek, who is currently housed in a Department of State Hospitals facility in Coalinga. 

Cheek is a designated sexually violent predator.

The efforts of Liberty Healthcare Corp. to set up a reverse-fortified residence for him to stay at on Wild Iris Lane were met with steep community resistance, and an appeals court has yet to rule on that approved placement.

Area residents said the remote section of the county has poor internet connectivity and slow law enforcement response times, as so is a bad place to put Cheek.

secure document shredding

Cogliati said she doesn’t expect the 6th District Court of Appeal to rule for at least a couple of months.

“We have great concerns about transient release,” said Assistant District Attorney Alex Byers.

Cheek’s lawyer, Stephen J. Prekoski, is leaving the public defender’s office and Cogliati appointed him the defendant’s private attorney.

Prekoski said Santa Cruz County officials haven’t been very helpful in assisting with the search for additional housing options for his client.

“They have done nothing,” he said. “There are no queries.”

Cogliati said Liberty Healthcare sent her a report that said their own housing search has been fruitless, so far.

Prekoski explained that the idea behind pushing for transient release—which he described as akin to homelessness—wasn’t so his client would end up on the streets, but to put pressure on authorities to be part of the solution.

He said the precedent set by the court case involving Tibor Karsai, another sexual predator Liberty Healthcare worked with who was released with no supervision, means it’s time to free Cheek.

In his own search, Prekoski noted, he discovered Ventura County had set up a program where sexually violent predators can stay in trailers next to a jail.

The judge keyed in on this idea.

“Is it possible that he could be transient-released to Ventura County and use one of its trailers?” she asked.

Prekoski replied that, technically speaking, moving Cheek to a trailer wouldn’t be considered a transient release.

Appearing via Zoom, Cheek urged the judge to let him move into a temporary home while a more permanent choice is selected.

“I’m a 70-year-old male; I’m very vulnerable,” he said, referring to problems with Covid-19 in the state hospitals system. “I’m out of my cell, at most, two-and-a-half hours a day.”

Cogliati set the transient release hearing for Aug. 10 at 9am but also set a court date for June 27, at 9am, to consider expanding the counties Cheek could be allowed to live in.

1 COMMENT

  1. He’s a violent sex offender. Why would you ever release him to prey on women again. He’s not fit to live in society.

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