A San Diego judge heard comments from the public Friday regarding the proposed release of a convicted sex offender into a supervised home in East County.
Michael James Poulsom, 60, was convicted on three separate occasions — including twice in San Diego County — for sex crimes involving children.
He was sentenced to 15 years in state prison in 1995, but prior to his release date, prosecutors petitioned to have Poulsom committed to a state hospital as a Sexually Violent Predator or SVP, a designation for those convicted of sexually violent offenses and diagnosed with a mental disorder — pedophilia disorder, in Poulsom’s case — that makes them a danger to the public.
A jury found Poulsom to be an SVP and he was committed to the Department of State Hospitals to undergo treatment.
He’s since petitioned for release from the hospital and into the Conditional Release or CONREP program for sex offenders and the Department of State Hospitals proposed placing him at 45612 Old Highway 80 in Jacumba Hot Springs.
A representative from Liberty Healthcare, which manages the conditional release program, said the Jacumba Hot Springs property is one of 727 sites that was evaluated for Poulsom’s placement.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge Jay Bloom, who took the placement matter under submission on Friday, said he drove out to the site on his own time and found the area to be rather desolate, with no schools, business or occupied homes nearby.
Nonetheless, members of the public — including County Supervisor Dianne Jacob — urged Bloom to find an alternative site to place Poulsom.
Jacob suggested placing Poulsom just outside the grounds of the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, where some SVPs have been situated in the past. However, prison officials have rejected any future placements.
Bloom said that utilizing the prison did appear to be the best possible alternative, though it was uncertain whether he would be able to place Poulsom there.
Patricia Poole, one of Poulsom’s victims, said she believed Poulsom would re-offend.
Poole said she and her cousins were among Poulsom’s victims and that he was inclined to abuse prepubescent girls. She said it did not come as a shock that he had not committed any violations while in the hospital, as there were no viable victims, as there would be if he was living among the general public.
“When most of us think about pedophiles, we think of sleazy-looking people we want to cross the road to avoid. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality,” Poole told the court. “They look like our brothers, cousins, fathers, grandpas or even that nice man or woman who works at the corner store. That was true for my cousins and I and an unknown number of his other victims. And if he’s released in Jacumba, that could become the reality for the citizens of that community as well.”
Poole said Poulsom was “an opportunistic predator” who had convinced others he was rehabilitated on several occasions and abused children after every conviction he received.
Jacob, along with Mary Taylor — a victim of SVP Alvin Ray Quarles — and Boulevard resident Alice Keyser, said East County has become oversaturated with sexual predators and that other locations should be considered.
Jacob said Poulsom would mark the 13th SVP in the area.
“There is an over-concentration of Sexually Violent Predators out in the rural East County,” Jacob told Bloom.
The supervisor also said the public should have more access to information regarding other sites considered for placement and why some SVPs are considered for conditional release.
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