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Molester loses 3rd bid for freedom

'I'm going to die in jail,' Sid Landau, 69, says after O.C. jury decides that the pedophile is still a threat to society.

August 01, 2008|Paloma Esquivel | Times Staff Writer

Convicted pedophile Sid Landau has repeatedly asked Orange County juries to release him from a state mental facility, insisting he was an aging, frail man who no longer was a threat to society. The first two times, the juries deadlocked and the judge dutifully sent him back to the facility.

On Thursday, a Superior Court jury broke that cycle and unanimously rejected Landau's bid to be released, ending for now his long-running battle to be set free from the mental hospitals where he has been held for eight years.

Dressed in a blue-and-white checkered shirt, his gray hair and beard neatly trimmed, Landau, 69, looked down at the table, let out a sigh and whispered to his lawyer.

"I'm going to die in jail," he told him.

The serial pedophile has been hospitalized at state mental facilities while prosecutors pursued a petition under the state's sexually violent predator statute, which allows offenders deemed a continual threat to remain hospitalized in state custody after their prison sentences are completed.

Landau says his sexual appetite has been curtailed by age and poor health, including prostate cancer and heart surgery. But prosecutors say he is incurable and has no boundaries when it comes to children.

Landau was convicted of molesting a 10-year-old boy in 1982 and again in 1988 for molesting an 8-year-old boy. He served 10 years and then was returned to prison after violating parole. He has admitted molesting eight other boys.

In the 1990s, Landau became the public face of Megan's Law when police distributed fliers near his Placentia home, identifying him as a convicted sex offender.

Protesters chased him from the home, and then from motel to motel around Orange County until he was arrested for parole violations, first for striking a TV news photographer and again after authorities found family photographs of him with his young grandnephews.

Since his prison terms were completed, prosecutors have argued that Landau should remain in state custody. Two juries failed to reach a decision on the case. The first trial in 2006 ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of setting him free. Earlier this year, a jury leaned 8 to 4 in favor of keeping him hospitalized.

In the latest trial, prosecutors presented evidence seeking to show that Landau was an incurable pedophile and was hardly a man broken by failing health. They said he walks three hours a day for at least 10 miles.

But Landau's attorney, Leonard Levine, insisted that his client's sexual appetite had been sapped by age and illnesses. Landau's sister-in-law testified that he could live with her and her husband in Queens, N.Y., where he would be closely supervised.

Levine said his client would appeal Thursday's decision.

"He deserves a second chance," Landau's brother, Ronald, said as he hurried out of the courtroom after the decision. "He's 69 years old."

Several jurors gathered outside the courtroom to share their thoughts with lawyers and investigators. They said Landau's age and health were not a factor in their decision.

"He's in great shape," said Cinde McCallum, 51, of Huntington Beach.

"Just because you're 69 doesn't mean you're not going to do something," said juror Tami Halle, 42, of Orange.

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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