By Caroline Aguirre, Retired Parole Agent
As the sun was setting
on March 25, a man approached a 6-year-old girl playing hide-and-seek with
friends outside her Boyle Heights home and enticed her with the promise of $50 to
come with him to nearby Sheridan
Her playmates alerted
family members and the girl’s uncle rushed to the school. With the help of the
janitor, he found her and then chased the man for two blocks, tackled him and
held him for police.
The suspect accused of
rape was identified as Edward Gonzalez, 28, a hard core gang member on parole
for Assault with a Deadly Weapon with the intent to Commit Great Bodily Injury.
What unfolded in the days after the incident left the family and community
members with many unanswered questions about the school principal’s refusal to
answer questions about the incident, or even acknowledge it, and why the school’s gates and doors were unlocked.
LAUSD officials refused
requests for a community awareness meeting and Councilman Jose Huizar, a former
school board member, and his staff refused to intercede.
Capt. Anita Ortega of
the LAPD Hollenbeck Division did have senior lead officers meet with the
community about incidents in the neighborhood.
The biggest question of
all was why Edward Gonzalez was even on the streets instead of in prison.
His parole records
dating back to 2005, he was classified as a High Control Supervision case,
multi-termer with an extensive criminal arrest history for very violent
criminal offenses. He was identified as a gang member with a history of drug
use. He had a meth pipe with him when arrested after the rape of the little
Gonzalez was paroled on Feb.
2, 2009 but was imprisoned again on June 30, 2009 for Absconding Parole supervision,
Criminal Threats and Battery Spouse/Child. He was released back into the
community on April 9, 2010.
Parole records show that
he allowed to remain on parole despite two unspecified violations, the last on
Sept. 30 of last year.
It is yet another case
of the failure of the Division of Adult Parole Operations – one that allowed
Gonzalez to commit this heinous crime.
During the past years
the Division of Adult Parole Operations has spent millions of taxpayer dollars
on computers for all parole agents and the upgrade of the department’s computer
technology and new computer programs to make sure that the information on
parolees face sheets are up-to-date and accurate.
It is the responsibility of
the Parole Unit Supervisor and the parole District Administrator to make sure
that all parole agents are in compliance and that the data is downloaded weekly
into the State Wide Data Bank for all Law Enforcement Agencies called LEEDS.
Gonzalez’s parole face sheet states that he is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs
110 pounds. The Los Angeles County Sheriffs booking
information says he is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. The parole
face sheet fails to note his tattoos which are mentioned on the sheriff’s
If Gonzalez had not been
caught at the scene of the crime, the discrepancies in the information about
him would made prosecution impossible even if the victim or others were able to
provide a description. Any law enforcement officer can tell you that the
information on a parolee’s face sheet is vital information. It is a public
safety tool and the information if accurate can make the difference for life or
death for both police officers and the general public.
The breakdown in the parole system in Edward Gonzalez’ case is not an isolated
example – something that has become increasingly important because of the early
release of thousands of felons because of state budget cuts.
On March 18, just a week
before the rape of the 6-year-old girl, LAPD officers in the Foothill Division
responded to shots fired robbery in progress call at a McDonald’s restaurant in
An armed man later
identified as parolee Ryan William Reese, assaulted employees and customers
during a holdup attempt. A retired Burbank
police officer tried to stop the man and finally pulled his own gun and shot
and killed the parolee.
Reese’s parole face
sheet noted that his assigned parole agent failed to update and change his address
of record, failed to note that Reese had a history of both medical and mental
health problems and also failed to list Reese as a gang member as noted on a
gang data bank. Problem areas on the face sheet were left blank.
Reese was being
supervised out of the Antelope Valley Parole office while he was residing in
the Sunland -Tujunga area, and his assigned parole agent was aware of this
information, according to Reese’s immediate family members. Joe Martinez is the
same Parole District Parole Administrator ultimately responsible for both Gonzalez
State Assembly Speaker John Perez’s executive assistant Tiffany Johnson was
told the facts of both cases and responded, “This is not a state issue. Speaker
Perez’ job is to make new state policies and new state laws”.
Reminded that the
Division of Adult Parole Operations falls under the California State Department
of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is a state agency, she said all concerns
should be directed to the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office and local legislators.
State Elected official Kevin
de Leon’s said it was unaware of the rape incident even though he represents Boyle Heights.
Where is the
Accountability? Where is the Public Outcry? Why do these employees of the
Division of the Adult Parole Operations continue to maintain their employment?
They continue to place in community in harm’s way.