Neighbors in Lamont worry about sex offenders in group home

Neighbors in Lamont worry about sex offenders in group home »Play Video
Some neighbors in Lamont are worried they didn't get direct notification about a high-risk sex offender living in a group home in their area. Residents said they also didn't know how many offenders are now housed at the "Ranch Awakening" home at South Vineland and Panama Road.

The Kern County Sheriff's Department put information out to the media on October 17th about Bruce Edward Riley, but resident Marty Nordin says no fliers came to his neighborhood.

"It irritates me that we weren't notified as a neighborhood," said Nordin on Monday afternoon. He was passing out copies of the Sheriff's flier to some of his neighbors walking by and pushing a baby stroller.

Nordin estimated his area off Fuller Lane is about a half mile from the group home. He thinks the sex offenders from the home could easily walk through his neighborhood.

On Monday, Kern County Sheriff's Detective Bill Hakker said he wasn't sure if the material about Riley had been distributed to any residents in Lamont. "It's been sent to the Lamont (sheriff's) substation," said Hakker. "It's my understanding they were getting the fliers printed up and they're going to be sending them out."

The fliers explain that Riley is classified by the California Department of Justice as a sexual violent predator. He was convicted in 1979 of kidnapping and sex crimes with a victim under the age of 14. "Since then Riley has had numerous other non sexual violent crime convictions," reads the flier.

Law agencies can make public notification when a sexual violent predator on parole is placed in a community. But, with other types of sex offenders public notification doesn't necessarily happen.

Nordin says he is also worried now that he's found out as many as 11 other sex offenders also live at the group home.

According to the Megan's Law website 12 registered sex offenders are shown listed at 5960 Vineland Road, which is the address of the Ranch Awakening.

Det. Hakking says he also "a little bit worried" about the number of sex offenders at one location. "That's a lot of people there and the likelihood of crime occurring could be increased," said Hakker. "But on the plus side, we know where they are and we do have a list of who's living there."

The Lamont School District superintendent says she also has concerns about the number of sex offenders and presence of the high risk offender at the group home. Cheryl McConaughey estimated the home is two or three miles from Mountain View Middle School, but they sent letters out last week to students' families about the high risk sex offender.

"The district sees this as a concern," said McConaughey. She said administrators went to classrooms to give students more instruction on staying away from strangers.

Det. Hakker said he sent information about Riley to the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office so it could be forwarded to all the schools in the county.

Operators of Ranch Awakenings said there may be fewer than 12 sex offenders now at the facility. They also said all the sex offenders are on GPS monitors and constantly supervised. They stress sex offenders must have some place to live, and the location on Vineland meets all state laws.

But Nordin worries about residents being aware of who is in their area. "Everybody's going to be on edge," said Nordin. "So, they're going to have to bring their children in. But that's what we want is the notification so that we're able to do that."