Residents protest outside sex offender's home

September 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
On the peninsula there was another protest in front of a house in East Palo Alto where a convicted sexually violent predator is now living. Wednesday's demonstration is being led by city officials. They want the judge who placed him here to reconsider.

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The protest began at 6 p.m. with a number of families gathered outside the house of where Donald Robinson is living and was lead by the Mayor of East Palo Alto. On Tuesday night, the East Palo Alto city council passed a resolution opposing Robinson moving into the neighborhood, which he did almost a week ago.

Neighbors are outraged. Robinson is a sex offender with a long history of convictions for felony sexual assaults against adult women between 1970 and 1984, including the rape of a 71-year-old woman.

He became eligible for parole in 1997, but remained at a state mental hospital where he received treatment through a program for sexually violent predators.

Last month a Santa Clara County judge ordered him to be released and to live at a home in East Palo Alto. Robinson was living in East Palo Alto at the time of his last conviction and has family there.

However, city leaders and neighbors are raising concerns about the home's close proximity to schools half a mile away, churches and a day care center, and they want the judge to reconsider.

"I have a wife, children, and a mother who live with me and every single noise wakes me up now," said Kenneth Burillas, a neighbor.

"We really feel strongly that he needs to change the order and send Mr. Robinson not to another community, but to an alternative place," said East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica.

That alternative place, the mayor said, should be some kind of transitional group housing for sex offenders.

While at home on Beach Street, Robinson is living under 24-hour surveillance. A private contractor was hired to oversee his release, and one of those monitors answered the door earlier on Wednesday at the house.

However, for the neighbors gathered at the protest, that is not much comfort. They say it's unclear how long that surveillance will continue.

Police say about 10 officers monitored the protest.

A court spokesman says the judge is ethically prohibited from commenting on the matter.

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