The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has received several inquiries from the public regarding the potential release of a man, previously determined to be a sexually violent predator, into the Freshwater area. Sheriff William F. Honsal submitted the following letter in opposition to the proposed placement to the Honorable Judge Feeney on August 15, 2018:

Sheriff Honsal

Honorable Judge Feeney,

As the Sheriff of Humboldt County, one of my primary functions is to protect the community from violent predators. The citizens deserve the protection of the judicial branch of government to also weigh the rights of a convicted felon vs the best interest of a law abiding community. Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) Joshua Cooley is someone that threatens the safety and security of this community. I am in full support of District Attorney Maggie Fleming’s ongoing efforts to prevent SVP Cooley’s release into this community. This is based on the fact that Cooley has been determined by multiple qualified SVP examiners that he is likely to engage in sexually violent criminal behavior if he was released into any community. Do we want a person released into our community who has a pattern of behavior such as harassing young children, breaking into houses, threatening to kill teenagers, giving minor girls alcohol and then taking them back to a location where he can take advantage of them sexually, and violently gang raping them? Not only that, but this predator has a history of not being compliant with his terms of conditional release including his refusal to attend a sexual offender’s course.

The sexual offenders nowadays don’t have to go to parks or drive around in vans looking for persons to victimize. They can sit on their computers or personal communication devices in their own home and lure their victims to them or they will victimize them over the internet. You can try and restrict this access; however, these sexual offenders find a way. The desired placement location, Howard Heights Road, is not the right location to place such a sexually violent predator. Not only are there schools and parks in close proximity, but there are many families that have children that play outside in this rural community. This area has a lot of forest and open private land that a sexual offender can watch others, meet victims, hide or stash items, or run from the authorities. Also, a GPS monitor doesn’t work the best in heavily forested areas. This rural area also can experience winter weather conditions that make the road impassible to Law Enforcement or first responders.

Everything about releasing this Sexually Violent Predator into the Howard Heights area is wrong. A SVP should be at a location where authorities can easily check up on him. The location would also be conducive to a GPS ankle monitoring system that would work flawlessly without interference. They should be placed at a location where they can’t easily hide and when Law Enforcement is called, the response time would be immediate. The California citizens who passed the sex offender laws expect the executive and judicial branches of government to protect them from Sexual Violent Predators. The constitutional rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness of those in the Freshwater area will be severely infringed upon if the predator is allowed to live in this rural area.

Please reconsider the plan to move this SVP to Howard Heights. The people of Humboldt County have placed their trust in the District Attorney and the Sheriff to protect them from those who violate the law. We cannot allow a Sexually Violent Predator who has a history of noncompliance with state laws and post prison release conditions back into this community.

Thank you for putting the people first.

William F. Honsal III
Humboldt County Sheriff


At an upcoming hearing on Thursday, August 23 at 8:30 a.m., in Humboldt County Court Department 4, the Honorable Judge Feeney will decide whether to authorize the proposed placement. Sheriff Honsal encourages community members to attend this hearing and speak their concerns.