A man classified as a sexually violent predator from Humboldt County is being considered for placement in Tehama County – but not if the Tehama County Board of Supervisors have anything to say about it.
On Tuesday, the board unanimously approved sending a letter to Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John T. Feeney stating the board’s adamant opposition to the proposed placement of convicted sexually violent predator Joshua Bryan Cooley in Tehama County.
Cooley, 39, was charged with sexual battery and criminal threats in 2001, and then in 2002 he was charged with the kidnap and rape of a 12-year-old girl, according to court records.
After serving his sentence, Cooley was on parole wearing a monitored electric ankle bracelet, when in 2007 Eureka police arrested him for allegedly providing alcohol to girls between the ages of 12-17 during a party at his home. He also admitted to “making out” with the 17-year-old, courts records disclosed.
Cooley was adjudged a sexually violent predator by the Humboldt Superior Court and civilly committed to the Department of State Hospitals.
Judge Feeney found Cooley suitable for conditional release back into the community in 2016. After unsuccessful attempts to place Cooley in Humboldt County, Feeney found “extraordinary circumstances” and proposed placement in Tehama County on Frontier Drive off Highway 36W.
The letter from the board of supervisors states Cooley was convicted on sex crimes in Humboldt County and has no ties, connections or convictions in Tehama County.
Paul Martin, on behalf of Liberty Health Corp., which would place and regulate Cooley, said he has been trying unsuccessfully for two years to find a place in Humboldt County for Cooley, but believes the Frontier Road location in Tehama County would be suitable.
In response, Tehama County Assistant District Attorney James Waugh said, “Humboldt County is much bigger than Tehama County and it is difficult to believe they couldn’t find placement for Mr. (Joshua) Cooley there, and it is objectionable they are trying to place him in Tehama County.”
Supervisor Dennis Garton said he is fully aware of the sexually violent predator program.
“I am fully aware of the Liberty Health Program and what they do,” he said. “The issue on this particular one (Cooley) is he is not committed from this county, he is from Humboldt County and I will be voting to submit the letter opposing the placement.”
Waugh told the board there is a grave and a vast difference between a registered sex offender and a person designated a sexually violent predator who has been civilly committed to a state hospital based upon their history and crimes of sexual violence.
The letter from the board states, “As a board, we must consider broad-ranging impact of such a placement on our community. We are concerned about the impact this would have on the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office, who would be tasked with ensuring Cooley’s compliance with his 290 (sex offender) registration requirement, as well as any calls for service regarding Cooley.”
The letter goes on to say, the board, as stewards of the county, its resources and quality of life, “simply cannot in good conscience accept placement of Joshua Cooley in our county,” and the board adamantly oppose Cooley’s placement in Tehama County.
According to the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office, the county has had three sexually violent predators released conditionally over the past several years, all of whom were residents who committed their crimes in the county and were adjudicated in Tehama County Superior Court.
The D.A.’s office said, “The Humboldt County Superior Court would retain jurisdiction over Cooley, thus depriving our local court of jurisdiction over Cooley. Cooley’s proper placement is in Humboldt County and the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office, along with the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office, is opposed to Cooley’s placement here.”