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October 1999 California:

Chris Harrison Decker was just another tenant at the 531 W Wilson Street apart-- ment complex in the Orange County city of Costa Mesa. He paid the $795-a- month rent for his two-bedroom apartment on time and got along with his neigh- -bors. "There was peace in rny life," Decker recalls.

But on September 8, 1998, several Costa Mesa police came by the complex with a stack of flyers that named Decker as a high-risk sex offender, convicted in 1977 of the rape of a 31-year-old Garden Grove woman. The flyer said, "The purpose of this release of information is to allow members of the public to protect themselves and their children from sex offenders." The police included Decker's mug shot and listed his tattoos, a bug and a flower on his chest.

The following day, Decker found a 30-day eviction notice nailed to his door. He had served eight years at the California Institute for Men in Chino and had moved to Costa Mesa to start over, pursuing his calling as a minister to street people. Now he found himself living what seemed to be a modern-day version of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. ..more.. by California Lawyer October 1999

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