Crime

Is a rural home 36 miles outside the city a suitable place for a child molester?

In March 2016, a Fresno County judge ruled that child molester Jeffrey Snyder could be released from the Coalinga State Hospital. But first authorities have to find suitable him a home in Fresno County.
In March 2016, a Fresno County judge ruled that child molester Jeffrey Snyder could be released from the Coalinga State Hospital. But first authorities have to find suitable him a home in Fresno County. Fresno County District Attorney’s Office

Child molester Jeffrey Snyder won’t be living in Fresno.

Instead, authorities have found him a home in a rural area 36 miles east of Fresno.

But it’s still unclear when Snyder, who is locked up in Coalinga State Hospital, will move into his new digs.

Snyder, who grew up in Fresno, is one of 480 sexually violent predators in California who have finished their prison sentences but are considered so dangerous that they must remain locked up.

In March, Snyder appeared in Fresno County Superior Court and earned his freedom. He had acknowledged his wrongdoing, showed remorse for his victims and completed intense treatment programs for sex offenders, said Fresno attorney Curtis Sok, who represents Snyder.

In his ruling, Judge Gary Hoff said Snyder, who has been diagnosed with abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities, still is a sexually violent predator. But Hoff found Snyder could be released to a home in Fresno County under strict conditions, such as 24-hour monitoring and drug testing.

But finding a home for Snyder, 61, has been difficult. In August, dozens of residents protested the potential placement of Snyder in a five-bedroom, two-story home on La Paz Avenue in northwest Fresno. Residents said the home was not suitable for Snyder because it was near a school and park.

More than 660 homes were checked out, but only one owner is considering whether to rent to Liberty Healthcare to house Snyder.

Hoff also received nearly 75 letters from residents who told the judge that many children live in the neighborhood and they feared Snyder would offend again.

One letter writer said Snyder’s life would be threatened if he was released: “It is only going to be a matter of time before someone kills him.”

The protest prompted the home’s owner and the Department of State Hospitals to pull the application, prosecutor Richard Thomas said.

Since then, authorities have been looking for another location for Snyder.

The Department of State Hospitals has a contract with Liberty Healthcare to find housing for sexually violent predators. At a court hearing Sept. 27, Hoff suggested that Liberty officials should look in rural, less-populated areas that aren’t near schools or parks.

On Tuesday, Hoff learned that more than 660 homes were checked out, but only one owner is considering whether to rent a mobile home to Liberty Healthcare to house Snyder.

Because no formal lease agreement has been signed, the exact location of the mobile home was not been made public. But Tom Fletcher of Liberty Healthcare, who is searching for a home for Snyder, told Hoff the mobile home is 36 miles east of Fresno and is being renovated.

Fletcher said he will know within three weeks whether the owner is willing rent to Liberty Healthcare.

Hoff asked Fletcher to return to court Dec. 13 to say whether the owner has signed a rental agreement. If the agreement has been signed, the exact location of the property will be made public to allow residents in the area to weigh in on whether it is a suitable location for Snyder.

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

  Comments