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Sexual predator may be released into East County community

Posted at 8:16 AM, Nov 16, 2019

JACUMBA,Calif. (KGTV) — Neighbors in a rural East County town are once again fighting the possible release of a sexually violent predator into their community.

Currently, the Department of State Hospitals is considering Thomas Cornwell as the next new resident of the Jacumba Hot Springs area. Cornwell was convicted of lewd acts with children under 14.

While the Jacumba area is patrolled by San Diego Sheriff's deputies, neighbors aren't satisfied.

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When asked how do you explain to children that there's sexually violent predators in your community, one resident told 10News, "tell them there's a rattlesnake that walks on two legs."

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has been an outspoken critic against the placement of sexually violent predators in the area. Jacob says the individuals should, instead, be kept behind bars.

"As far as I'm concerned, they gave up their right to freedom when they preyed on our young and most vulnerable. They don't belong in any town. They belong behind bars," Jacob said in a statement.

Since 2015, nine of 12 sexually violent predators in the county have been released into the East County. Five of 12 have violated the conditions of their release. Four have been returned to a state mental institution.

Cornwell's release hasn't been finalized. His hearing is set for Dec. 14, where the public is welcomed to attend and comment.