Dec 17, 2013 8:53 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Sex offenders living near Christmas tree lot

A KSBY investigation back in October led to some sex offenders being kicked off a San Luis Obispo property where pumpkins were being sold.

On Tuesday, we uncovered that same ranch is now hosting a Christmas tree lot and still has child sex offenders living on the grounds.

In October, Sunny Acres Ranch in San Luis Obispo hosted its annual pumpkin patch. The ranch is a sober living facility housing sex offenders and other recovering addicts. Our report revealed California law does not permit sex offenders living on the property if they are on parole or probation.

Dan DeVaul, owner of Sunny Acres, has been rehabilitating sex offenders for 17 years at his ranch in San Luis Obispo. However, a few annual programs used to raise money for the ranch are causing controversy.

Some people are upset the ranch is using ways to make money that draw children to a property that has sex offenders.

"The property has sex offenders but there is no way that the children are going to come in contact with the sex offenders," said DeVaul. "Because they're on the other side of the property and I told them they couldn't come over here."

At the moment, four child sex offenders are registered to Sunny Acres, according to the Megan's Law website. California law says if they aren't on probation or parole, they're allowed to stay.

A KSBY investigation in October led to six being kicked off the property; however, DeVaul says that's making the problem worse.

"If they're here, they have contact with mental health, they have contact with parole, they have contact with the Sheriff's department," said DeVaul. But, they also may have contact with those they aren't supposed to. "I'm sure that to you, Christmas trees sounds like kids, pumpkins sound like kids, but there's just as many kids that come in with the people buying wood as there is with the Christmas trees," said DeVaul.

We asked DeVaul if he would let one of the offenders speak to us on camera. "Why would I do that or why would he do that when I can guaran(expletive)tee you that if he does he will be in jail to(expletive)night," he said.

One of the big problems San Luis Obispo County faces is that sex offenders are very limited on where they can live. DeVaul gives these people a place to recover and start a new life, but the state parole board says they can't be at the ranch if they are on parole or probation while these types of family activities are happening.

KSBY spoke with the State Department of Corrections Tuesday. It says the sex offenders living there now were asked to leave.

DeVaul also told KSBY that just last week he refused one man shelter there because he was at high risk of re-offending.

The Sheriff's Office says DeVaul is in constant contact with its office to make sure offenders aren't getting back into trouble.



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