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Parents picket against sex offender

4-1-2005 California:

Police do nothing knowing full well what the community is doing is against the law including the registry law!

.Angry moms and dads turned up the heat Wednesday on a sex offender, who recently moved into their neighborhood, in an effort to force him to move somewhere else. A group of about 50 parents, many of them with children in tow, spent much of the day picketing near the corner of Mapleton Street and Iris Lane, just yards from the home of Edison Martinez Mercado, 42.

The man was convicted in the late 1990s of several counts of child molestation, according to the state attorney general's Megan's Law Web site and officials with the state parole office. "I'll be out here as long as I have to be until he's out of here," said Andi Rapagnani, 27, who has an 11-year-old son and lives directly behind Mercado.

The signs the parents carried drew honks of support from passersby: "Honk if you hate child molesters," "Child molesters not welcome," "Convicted child molester Edison M. Mercado lives near you," and "Mapleton has a new elementary school, a park, walking trails, bus stops, lots of kids and a child molester." Officials with the state parole office in Escondido said Wednesday that Mercado served three years in state prison, starting in 1999. And in January, he completed three years on parole. [snip]

Mercado could not be reached for comment Wednesday. However, his father, Gregorio Mercado, 82, said that the pressure is taking a toll on the family. "It hurts me because they are saying bad things," Gregorio said. "We are just doing the best we can." A 19-year-old woman answered the door at Mercado's house, Wednesday. She declined to give her name, but identified herself as the man's sister-in-law. She said that seven adults and six children, two of whom are Mercado's, live in the house.

Asked about the neighborhood parents who are protesting against Mercado, the woman said, "They just say the same thing over and over again ---- it's like they don't have a life; it's pretty sad." She said that other children in the neighborhood have already threatened her 10-year-old nephew over Mercado's presence on their street. "I just try and mind my own business and they should too," the woman said. [snip]

Several parents said they first learned that Mercado had moved into their neighborhood, when one parent saw the man's name, photo, address and crimes on the Megan's Law database on the attorney general's Web site about 10 days ago. The man printed up fliers warning residents of Mercado's presence in the area and distributed them throughout the neighborhood.

Some neighbors began putting up signs on their lawns, advising people that Mercado is a convicted sex offender living near them and giving his address. Tiffany Links, who lives on a nearby street, said Mercado's wife began handing out copies of a letter allegedly written by her husband.

Dated March 24, the letter begins: "My name is Edison Mercado and yes I am a sex offender." In the letter, the person claiming to be Mercado, admits that he had committed the offenses against a 14-year-old girl, "two weeks before her 15th birthday." He wrote that after his prison term, during his three years on parole, he attended weekly sex-offender rehabilitation sessions with a doctor at the Escondido parole office.

"I am not a child predator. I promise you that I will not approach any child in this neighborhood," the letter states. The letter apologizes for the commotion and fear that Mercado's presence has created in the area. "I truly understand your situation. I made bad choices in the past but I am starting a new life, please give me one chance," the letter states. ..more.. by WILLIAM FINN BENNETT

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