|Residents protest freed sex offender in neighborhood
Parents, students, city leaders demonstrate outside school, demand Cary Verse leave
OAKLAND -- Freed sex offender Cary Verse was again the subject of angry protests Friday after he resurfaced at a new address directly across the street from a Fruitvale district school.
Only one day after Verse moved to a transitional home run by Benedictine monks on E. 12th Street, about 100 parents, students and city leaders demonstrated outside Ascend K-8 school and demanded that Verse leave.
"We cannot afford to have him here," parent Emma Paulino said Friday. "Whatever we need to do (to get rid of Verse), we'll do it."
Verse, 33, has been deemed a sexually violent predator, and is only the second person with that designation to be released in California. He was bounced from his first post-prison home in Marin County following protests by neighbors, and landed last month at a transient hotel in downtown Oakland. Word of Verse's latest move spread Friday when Oakland police gave school officials fliers bearing Verse's mug shot and new address.
"I don't want to see the guy homeless," said Oakland Police Chief Richard Word, standing outside the school Friday. "But ... across the street from a school? In light of his committed offense, it doesn't make sense."
Word and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (San Antonio-Fruitvale) spoke to Verse at his new residence Friday. Both Word and De La Fuente said Verse should move to Contra Costa County, where he was convicted. Oakland already has its hands full with ex-cons, they said.
De La Fuente told the crowd of parents and students Verse would be gone in 48 hours. "If not, the whole (transitional home) will be in jeopardy," he warned.
Father Donald Weeks, who runs the transitional home, said it would probably take several more days for Verse to move.
Weeks said parents were overreacting to Verse's presence. Verse has paid his debt to society and is not a danger, Weeks said.
"He can't sleep on the street, so we offered him the hospitality of the church," he said.
Weeks said Verse did not want to talk to reporters because of a gag order issued by a judge.
But Weeks did allow reporters into Verse's small apartment, which directly overlooks Ascend school. The building has libraries, church pews and an alter, and living space for 30 men who are ex-cons or struggling with drug or alcohol problems.
When asked what Verse was doing Friday as parents protested outside, Weeks said Verse, a self-proclaimed Jehovah's Witness, was reading the Bible.
Parents are afraid Verse will "jump out of the window like Dracula or something, and he's not going to do that," Weeks said.
At least one other man living in the building is a registered sex offender, Weeks told reporters.
"We have nothing to hide," Weeks said. "All we're trying to do is be Christian people and do the right thing."
Verse has been called one of the most closely-monitored sex offenders in the nation.
He is hooked up to a Global Positioning System (GPS), and cannot go more than 100 feet away from a device in his room without setting off alarms, Weeks said.
Verse is monitored around the clock and is subject to spot checks by authorities. Also, Verse takes "chemical castration" drugs to blunt his sex drive. All men convicted of two serious sex offenses in California are required to take such drugs.
"There are 19 other high risk (sex) offenders (in Oakland) who are not supervised at all," said Oakland police Lt. Mike Yoell, commander of the Oakland police youth services division.
"This guy has a GPS device, he's chemically castrated and he's monitored 24 hours a day," Yoell said. "He hasn't caused one iota of a problem since he's been in Oakland."
Verse has been convicted three times for sex offenses, starting at age 17 when he fondled a male teammate on his high school track team at knife point.
It is apparently legal for Verse to live near a school because he is not on probation or parole, and has not been convicted of molesting children.
But parents and politicians say they want him gone, no matter what.
"We don't care where you take him as long as you take him," De La Fuente said.
The council president said he got a call about Verse living across from Ascend school Friday morning, and immediately rode his Harley Davidson motorcycle to the building.
When De La Fuente got there, he "screamed and hollered at me," Weeks said. "He even shoved me around a little bit."
De La Fuente denied shoving the elderly monk, saying "that's not true. But I can tell you, I was not happy.
"I told Cary Verse to his face that there's no way I was going to allow him to live across the street from a school," De La Fuente added.
City officials also have launched a legal offensive, taking their frustration over Verse's placement in Oakland to court by petitioning a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge for the right to have a say on where he should live.
Earlier this week, the City Attorney's Office argued in Martinez that Oakland should be heard on the issue because local taxpayers are footing part of the bill to monitor the sexually violent predator.
"Our obligations and the security of our citizens mandate the formal recognition of the city's undeniable interests in this matter," attorneys for the city said in court papers.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office has made a similar request.
But officials from the Contra Costa County Public Defender's Office and the state Department of Mental Health, which oversees Verse's release, are opposing Oakland's petition.
The 1996 Sexually Violent Predator Act does not provide cities a voice in where predators live when they're released from Atascadero State Hospital, argue attorneys from the state Attorney General's Office, which is representing the mental health department.
If cities enjoyed such rights, it would throw a wrench into the entire placement process, because few, if any, communities would welcome men such as Verse, said Deputy Attorney General Susan King.
"Everything would be slowed down if you have to listen to every potential community that he may be sent to," King said.
A decision from Judge John Minney is expected soon.
Oakland City Attorney John Russo said he may look to the Legislature to amend the law if Oakland's petition is denied.
"State law is abysmal with respect to the rights of communities," Russo said. "We at least deserve the right of consultation."
Meanwhile, Verse will again be looking for a new place to live.
"We understand he's a human being," said parent Paulino. "He needs a place to go. But this is not the place."
Staff Writer Harry Harris contributed to this report.
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