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Taxpayers paid for El Cajon motel room where minor was allegedly sexually assaulted

Mayor calls for end to housing homeless temporarily in hotel rooms
El Cajon Mayor in front of Motel 6
Posted at 5:58 PM, Mar 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-21 19:54:22-04

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) — The mayor of El Cajon wants to stop a program that temporarily houses people experiencing homelessness in hotels after two convicted sex offenders allegedly had sex with a minor in a taxpayer-funded motel room.

"This program has really really escalated as far as danger to the public and to the community as far as I'm concerned,” said Mayor Bill Wells.

El Cajon Police announced Monday they arrested two convicted sex offenders for allegedly having sex with a minor at Motel 6.

Police say they were tipped off last Friday by a staff member from the non-profit PATH.

RELATED: The County and City of El Cajon can't agree on the hotel voucher program

PATH works to get people off the streets across California. It says it uses San Diego County funds to temporarily put people experiencing homelessness in hotels or motels while they work to secure housing.

Lawrence Cantrell and Michael Inman 2.png
(L-R) Michael Inman, 70, and Lawrence “Larry” Cantrell, 34

The non-profit confirmed to ABC 10News it used county money to pay for a room for 34-year-old Larry Cantrell. He and his 70-year-old friend Michael Inman have been booked for allegedly having sex with a minor. Both are convicted sex offenders.

Police say Cantrell told the employee he had a recording of the incident and say Cantrell admitted to having sexual contact with a girl he believed to be a minor.

They say Cantrell asked the girl about her age and she claimed to be an adult. They say he still thought she was a minor and had sex with her.

Police arrested Inman and say he admitted to engaging in sexual acts with the girl and say he told them about at least two more juvenile girls he and Cantrell had sex with during the past week at Motel 6.

El Cajon Police say they're still trying to find the girl and confirm her age while they look for other victims.

According to the El Cajon police department, on March 21 detectives located and identify one of the victims of sexual assault, which occurred at the Motel 6.

"It was determined the victim was a 16 year old girl," the department said in a press release.

Detectives are working closely with the District Attorney’s Office, who is evaluating the appropriate charges for both of these current, registered sex offenders.

RELATED: City Council takes up homeless motel voucher program

Wells, who has been a vocal opponent of a program that temporarily houses homeless people in hotels, said El Cajon Police have charged 90 homeless people staying in hotels with crimes.

He accused the San Diego County of sending people experiencing homelessness to his city.

“We’ve had a problem with we feel the overutilization of El Cajon as a place of basically a place to dump people in the voucher program that are homeless throughout the county.”

Emergency Meeting Planned

The mayor is now planning an emergency city hall meeting Tuesday. He said he has tasked city attorneys with coming up with a way to end the hotel program.

He said he previously tried to enact a conditional use policy that would’ve limited the amount of homeless people using vouchers to stay in hotels, but the state’s attorney general’s office put a stop to it.

A spokesperson for Motel 6 said there is nothing more important to the company than the safety and well-being of its guests and employees. The motel said it is doing everything it can to assist law enforcement with its investigation.

PATH media relations director Tyler Renner said the non-profit firmly stands against any act of violence or sexual misconduct.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to all those impacted by this disturbing incident,” Renner said in a statement.

A San Diego County spokesman said Motel 6 is not part of the county’s regional homeless assistance program, known as the county hotel voucher program that Wells is referring to.