Tension radiated through a Fallbrook community meeting as residents grilled law enforcement on how a convicted rapist was able to move in without public notice.
San Diego County Sheriff's officials faced a tough crowd at a volunteer fire station in De Luz Saturday as they answered questions about Barrett Littleton, who served time in prison for attacks on seven women in 1986.
“I've never been afraid to live in my home and sleep in my home, but now I'm petrified. I keep a loaded gun next to my bed,” said Torie Smith, who lives in front of the sex offender.
Smith’s property has a legal easement for the driveway, which means Littleton has the right to drive and walk up and down it to get to his home.
“I’m a single woman living alone, and this man rapes single women that live alone. I don’t know why he was put on my property,” Smith said.
Deputies told the packed room that Littleton was released from prison on parole a year ago and moved through six San Diego County locations before settling in on Daily Road in De Luz on May 27, registering as a sex offender each step of the way.
Littleton is required to list his specific address wherever he goes, which remains public knowledge under Megan’s Law, deputies say. He has also been fitted with a GPS monitor.
But Lt. Art Wager admits he discovered Littleton had moved into the area around the time enraged residents found out.
“When I said I was uninformed, that was the truth. I didn’t know about the specific individual,” said Wager. “However, there were no errors made in this particular case. Parolees move all the time.”
When Littleton was first released, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) decided the public would not have to be notified every time he moved.
Residents at the community meeting strongly disagreed with that policy.
“I’m not protected. I feel like bait,” Smith told the deputies as the crowd cheered her comment.
The biting backlash is forcing the sheriff’s department to rethink its policies on when to notify the public that a sex offender has moved to their neighborhood.
“Active notification outside of the Megan’s Law website,” Wager said. “That would entail in some cases going door to door in the neighborhood, flyers, that type of thing, publicity, going through the media.”
As for specifics about how Littleton is being monitored, deputies referred questions to the CDCR, which was invited to the meeting but did not send a representative.
Luis Patino, a spokesman for the CDCR, sent the following response to NBC 7’s request for comment:
“CDCR is keenly aware of importance of handling the sex-offender residency issues very carefully. That is why we followed the legally prescribed process to the letter. All required notifications to law enforcement agencies were made. We have carefully verified that Barrett Littleton served his full term in state prison - as defined by law. When Littleton was paroled he was fitted with GPS monitor and sent back to San Diego County, the county of his last legal residence, our parole agent made sure that the location of the residence in Fallbrook complies with state laws. The agent also verified that Littleton went to the local law enforcement office and registered as a sex offender. As a result of that registration the public can get important firsthand information about Littleton' s residency on the Megan's law website at http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/.”
NBC 7 reached out to Littleton for comment on this story, but requests were denied.