A registered sex offender who was recently placed on a public information bulletin by the Santa Monica Police Department was arrested Tuesday, October 9th, after he was seen near several schools in the local area, including a Westchester elementary school, police said.
Officers from a local law enforcement task force arrested 54-year-old Richard Gibbons of Culver City outside Pacific Elemen- tary School in Manhattan Beach, where he was allegedly seen committing lewd conduct inside his vehicle, said Lt. Alex Padilla of the Santa Monica Police Department, the lead agency in the task force.
Gibbons, who had been placed under surveillance by the task force, was seen near several local schools in the Mar Vista and Palms areas earlier on the day of his arrest, as well as the parking lot of Cowan Elementary School in Westchester, Padilla said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has charged Gibbons with the misdemeanors of engaging in lewd conduct and entering onto school grounds as a sex offender, said deputy district attorney Christine Von Helmolt of the Torrance sex crimes unit.
The charge of entering school grounds as a sex offender is part of the Sex Offender Control and Containment Act, a law that was enacted last year, Von Helmolt said. The law states that no person who is required to register as a sex offender can enter any school building or school grounds without “lawful school business” or without permission from a chief administrative official.
Gibbons was not on probation or parole when he was arrested, Von Helmolt said.
According to a Santa Monica police bulletin, Gibbons was required to register as a sex offender after he was convicted of a lewd act on a nine-year-old girl in 2002. He is drawn to elementary school-age children, particularly girls, the police bulletin alleges.
Santa Monica police issued the bulletin October 1st, alerting the public that Gibbons had allegedly been seen loitering recently near Clover Park and the 1100 block of Stanford Street.
“We wanted the public to be aware of him being in the area,” Padilla said was the reason police issued the bulletin.
At various times since 2004, Gibbons had allegedly been seen in several areas in Santa Monica, including the 2400 block of Pier Avenue, near Santa Monica Airport, Padilla said.
Police released the bulletin after the registered sex offender was allegedly seen loitering at the end of September in the 1100 block of Stanford Street, near a residence where three girls live, Padilla said. When Gibbons was confronted by neighbors in the area, he fled in his vehicle, according to the bulletin.
Task force officers placed Gibbons under surveillance and observed him as he went to several local schools October 9th, Padilla said.
“Working through the task force, we were able to keep an eye on him,” Padilla said.
Police served a search warrant at Gibbons’ Culver City residence following his arrest and recovered pornographic materials, Padilla said.
Gibbons pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges in Torrance Superior Court Thursday, October 11th. He is being held on $50,000 bail.