A convicted sex offender could likely be living within 200 feet of an elementary school in Lakeside and concerned parents have been told the placement is legal.
Lee Austin, 33, was convicted in 2001 of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age. This weekend, Austin will be released to live with his family on Lakeview Road, just across the street from Lakeview Elementary.
Even though some community members say they are concerned about students' safety, the agency releasing Austin said it's all within the law.
Austin was sentenced to more than two years in prison on Feb. 7, 2012 for making terrorist threats , or in his case threatening to harm someone. . He has been tested but does not fit the criteria to be classified as a Sexually Violent Predator, CDCR officials said.
Austin was paroled on October 20, 2013. His parole has been revoked twice and for that he was sent to county jail. Austin’s latest revocation was on September 16. He is scheduled to be paroled within days.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) told NBC 7 the agency routinely places a 2000-feet residency restriction on sex offenders, prohibiting them from living near a school.
However, because those restrictions are being challenged in San Diego County, a CDCR spokesperson said a location cannot be legally disqualified based on that 2000-feet restriction.
San Diego County is the only county in the state of California to have a stay on Jessica’s Law, according to multiple CDCR officials. The law was approved by legislators to prohibit registered sex offenders from living near parks or schools.
“CDCR will, however, require Austin to keep at least 250 feet from any location where children usually congregate. Austin will be required to wear a GPS unit at all times while on parole,” CDCR spokesperson Luis Patino wrote in a statement.
Neighbors Laurie Gallamore and Beth Marshall were among the group of parents who protested the release at a recent school meeting.
“Why risk our children for this guy,” Marshall asked.
“Makes me sad we live in a society where criminals are protected more than innocent children,” Gallamore said.
The stay on Jessica’s Law is expected to be argued again before the California Supreme Court in December.
The court has 90 days to make a decision.
In the meantime, both women told NBC 7 they plan to take action to protect their families.
“We're planning to put black mesh all across this chain link fence hopefully so that people won't be able to look in the campus,” Gallamore said.