LANCASTER — Add Lancaster city officials to the list of people protesting the proposed placement of sexually violent predator Lawtis Donald Rhoden in the Antelope Valley.
City leadership are calling on the community for urgent action in order to prevent the Orange County Superior Court from placing criminal Lawtis Donald Rhoden, a sexually violent predator with multiple sexual assault convictions and a history of reoffending, in the city.
Rhoden, now 72, committed several violent acts of sexual assault and rape against children in various states and counties.
The Orange County Superior Court determined Orange County as Rhoden’s official “place of domicile,” and in 2019 ruled that he can be conditionally released to the community. However, this past February, the court found “extraordinary circumstances” existed to authorize relocating Rhoden outside of Orange County, according to the LA County District Attorney’s office.
This past May, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office successfully fought Rhoden’s proposed placement in Twentynine Palms.
On Sept. 28, the California Department of State Hospitals notified the LA County District Attorney’s office of Rhoden’s recommended placement in a three bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,458-square-foot house at 48040 25th St. East, less than nine miles from City Hall.
“The City of Lancaster will not stand for having sexually violent predators like Rhoden shipped here from Orange County or elsewhere,” Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a statement. “We are committed to safety in the City of Lancaster, and we will do everything we can to protect our community’s families and children. Join us in speaking out and keeping Lancaster safe for our families.”
Rhoden has been convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old and four more sexual assaults on children. An Orange County Superior Court judge is determining whether Rhoden should be placed under supervised release and whether his placement may be in the Antelope Valley.
“Lancaster will not be a haven for violent criminals,” Crist warned. “We are calling on our community to take a stand with us. We will not allow this to happen and we will continue to fight for the protection of our community. 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.”
People with concerns offering support should send them to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office before Oct. 19 via one of the following options:
To comment via email, use Rhoden.Comments@da.lacounty.gov
Comments via mail should be to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Attn: Jay S. Grobeson, Deputy District Attorney, 9425 Penfield Ave., No. 3210, Chatsworth, CA 91311.
A placement hearing for Rhoden is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 5 at the Orange County Superior Court for the final selection of a placement location.