Butte County Fights to Keep a Serial Rapist Out of Paradise

A violent sexual predator could soon be housed in the City of Paradise following his release from a California state hospital. Butte County authorities are furious at the decision and will fight to have him housed in another county. 

Michael Cheek, 71, has a long history of kidnapping and sexual violence. He abducted and raped a woman from Santa Cruz County in 1980. He then escaped custody and abducted and raped a 15-year-old in Lake County.

Cheek was committed to a state hospital in the 1990s. In 2019, state hospital doctors determined he could continue outpatient therapy while living under supervision in a community.

The initial plan was for Cheek to be released in Santa Cruz County. Then a private school opened near the residence where Cheek was supposed to stay, nixing that plan.

Cheek’s sister agreed to let him live with her in the Berry Creek area of Butte County. But his sister later withdrew her consent. She has since moved out of Butte after having her home destroyed by the Bear Fire.

Cheek no longer has any known ties to Butte, yet state authorities are still looking to have him housed there. Last month, the state hospital's sexually violent predator supervised contractor proposed placing Cheek in a newly renovated vacant home in Paradise. The Paradise Police Department says no one was informed of this decision until Feb. 2.

Neighbors in Paradise say they’ll move if Cheek is placed in their community. Butte and Paradise officials have until Feb. 24 to put together a case for why Cheek should live elsewhere. 

District Attorney Mike Ramsey told KION that Butte County doesn’t want to be a “dumping ground” for other counties’ sexual predators.   

Santa Cruz authorities don’t want him there either. He’s originally from the East Bay and only came there for a day to commit a crime. 

“It’s just the worst possible place, to place somebody because he’s on an electronic monitoring but power often goes out,” Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty explained back in 2001. “There’s intermittent wifi. There’s very little cell coverage. Very little police coverage…”

A town hall meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Paradise Alliance Church on Clark Rd. at 6:30 p.m.

Read more at KRCR.