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The following article was posted on April 30th, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 40 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 40

Registered sex offender resigns from California Valley CSD

BY COLIN RIGLEY

A registered sex offender has resigned from her part-time position with the California Valley Community Services District.

On April 25, Andrea Morris resigned as a part-time custodian and groundskeeper. According to the California Department of Justice’s online sex offender registry, Morris was convicted of “continuous sexual abuse of child,” defined under the California Penal Code as no less than three or more “acts of substantial sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14 years” over a period of three months.

The CSD hired Morris in mid January, according to District Manager Sharee Washer, as she was the only applicant for the positions listed in September of 2013.

“She was a good worker,” Washer said. “I hate to see her go.”

Washer told New Times she was aware of Morris’ conviction at the time of the hiring, noting that Morris is legally obligated to disclose her background to employers. She added that she had no qualms with hiring Morris, and said Morris had no interactions with children at the CSD’s facilities. Morris, who worked about eight to 10 hours per week, wouldn’t have been on the job when children made regular visits to the district’s library, Washer said.

Morris resigned at the recommendation of her parole officer. Sheriff’s Department spokesman Tony Cipolla told New Times that Morris resigned “out of respect to her employer” and “because of negative publicity.”

CSD attorney Michael Seitz, who provides occasional legal advice as a contracted attorney, told New Times that he didn’t weigh in on Morris’ hiring, adding that any hiring would be subject to the district’s personnel policies enacted in 1999. A copy of those policies Washer provided to New Times makes note of drug screening and background checks, but doesn’t specifically mention how the district would handle an applicant with a criminal conviction.

Washer noted that the ongoing construction of large-sale solar plants in the Carrizo Plain has sucked up many potential job seekers.

“I’ve known Andrea for a long time,” Washer said. “I thought she wasn’t given a chance by the people out here—or the person out here.”

CSD Board of Directors President Ruth Legaspi was upset when contacted by New Times about the issue.

“For one: A person has a right to work,” she said. “For two: There are idiots in the valley who just don’t understand that.”

She then added that she had no comment “as long as you guys are going to print lies” and hung up.

New Times was unable to locate Morris for comment.