SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man convicted of sex crimes against children in Northern California who was recommended for conditional release to a Pauma Valley home will no longer be considered for placement in San Diego County, prosecutors said Friday.
Joshua Cooley, 40, is classified as a Sexually Violent Predator, a designation for those convicted of sexually violent offenses and diagnosed with a mental disorder that makes them likely to re-offend.
According to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, Cooley was convicted in Humboldt County of sex crimes against underage girls.
The Department of State Hospitals recently recommended placing Cooley at 15077 Adams Drive after attempts to find a suitable Humboldt County location were unsuccessful, according to the DA's Office.
The address is the same location where another Sexually Violent Predator, Joseph Bocklett, was recently recommended for release. San Diego County Superior Court Judge Howard Shore ultimately decided against the placement, ruling that it would bring the 76-year-old Bocklett too close to areas frequented by families.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan lodged a strong objection to Cooley's proposed placement, citing Shore's ruling and the potential risks to the public.
"Ignoring and overlooking Judge Shore's thorough, thoughtful and well- reasoned conclusions and continuing to consider this location for placement of an SVP is reckless and irresponsible," Stephan wrote in a letter to Liberty Healthcare and the California Department of State Hospitals, which are tasked with locating suitable post-release housing for sexual predators.
Stephan wrote that if the placement was considered inappropriate for Bocklett, a senior citizen, the much younger Cooley represented an even greater risk.
According to the DA's Office, Liberty Healthcare has stated that the recommendation was made in error, and the Department of State Hospitals no longer feels the Pauma Valley address is a suitable location for Cooley. An Oct. 9 virtual court hearing was scheduled in Humboldt County Superior Court to discuss the proposed placement, but that hearing has since been vacated.
"This placement would have put children and families at risk, so we went to battle alongside our community, and we prevailed," Stephan said. "I want to acknowledge that the system worked in that the State Department of Hospitals gave serious consideration to our concerns and spared us from an extended legal battle in court. They showed that they care about our community. I also want to acknowledge the SAFE Task Force, led by the sheriff's department, for all their work giving notification and gathering input from the community. As always, the DA Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division demonstrated their commitment to keeping our children safe and the community stood firmly with us in stopping this placement."