Camp Housing Paroled Rapist Loses Forest Service Permit

TIMES LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER

The U.S. Forest Service, bending to public pressure, ordered California officials Friday to eject paroled serial rapist Melvin Carter and an inmate camp from federal forest property in Modoc County.

The Forest Service revoked the state's permit to use the Modoc National Forest land after state officials refused to remove Carter, a notorious parolee whose presence at the camp has created an uproar in the nearby community of Alturas, in the state's northeast corner.

"This is an extreme action, but Melvin Carter is an extreme criminal," said Rep. Wally Herger (R-Rio Oso), who worked with the community to oust Carter.

Carter, 49, has confessed to attacking more than 100 women. When he was paroled to the Devil's Garden Conservation Camp in March, nearby residents threatened to kill him and a judge tried to banish him.

The state now has 30 days to remove Carter and 90 days to tear down the camp.

State officials said they will not consider removing Carter until they have exhausted administrative appeals. Department of Corrections spokesman Tip Kindel said the state has 10 days to seek a stay of the revocation and 45 days to appeal to Jack Ward Thomas, head of the Forest Service.

"There is absolutely nothing in the use permit that restricts anybody from being there," Kindel said. " . . . Once we get it into an environment that is not so emotionally charged, we will have a better chance of having the issue resolved."

Alturas residents said Friday they dread losing business from camp employees but still want Carter out of their community. "It is not a matter of getting rid of him as much as who are they going to bring in next," said Heather Chase, owner of Alturas' Sports Hut.

The federal permit is held by the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the camp is run by forestry and corrections officials. It has about 75 low-risk inmates who clear trails and fight fires.

Carter lives there as an employee of the Department of Corrections. Kindel said he works about two hours a day repairing radios and telecommunications equipment and earning $5 to $20 a month after costs for his food and other necessities are deducted.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
67°