Town Controversies: Steve Conklin

A Child Molester Next Door
Dr. Phil talks to members of an outraged community who object to the fact that a child molester has been allowed to move into their neighborhood.
On August 23, 1993, Steve Conklin kidnapped and sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

After serving only nine years, Conklin was paroled and allowed to move in with his mother, Vivian, who lives in West Covina, California. His arrival into the community caused an uproar. Parents hit the streets with picket signs warning residents that a sex offender was now living in the neighborhood.

"Representatives from the California Department of Corrections declined an invitation to appear on the show but issued a statement," explains Dr. Phil.

The statement says: "[Steve Conklin's] parole plans were reviewed with a view to what support systems were available to him. His mother and stepfather continued to offer him housing and family support and this support system is critical for any parolee.

Parolee Conklin returned to the family home in West Covina after his release. His photograph and identifying information have been widely distributed by the West Covina Police Department. This community awareness will help to monitor his movement in the community, enhancing public safety.


The Department of Corrections Parole & Community Services Division is applying all necessary precautions and behavioral controls to Parolee Conklin. Our mission is to protect the public and assist parolees in making successful re-entries into the community."

Christine, the mother of the victim who was abducted nine years ago, says, "It's much more than a molestation because when the police found her, they thought she was dead."

"I understand he lured your daughter into his apartment with some kittens?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Yes, his cat had kittens," explains Christine.

"How did they find her eight hours later?" asks Dr. Phil.

"They found her on the third search of his apartment," says Christine. "The apartment manager told the police [Conklin] had been suspected of molesting his wife's son and picked up. For whatever reason, that case was dismissed."
Many of Steve Conklin's new neighbors have young children and object to having a sex offender living next door.

"As a neighborhood, we are all extremely in fear for our children," says Rhonda (right). "We have altered our lives ... our kids can't even go out and play. Children literally lose their freedom when someone like this is released into a neighborhood."

"I never realized that someone who sexually assaulted children gets to come out of prison and go live wherever they want to live," says Marie (left). "I want people to know that sex offenders are everywhere. If parents took the time to go on a Web site and look, they would be absolutely horrified to find out how close they are living to people who could victimize their children."

"We began picketing outside our local high school, having community meetings and are trying to put pressure on the state to see what we can do to solve this problem," says Paul (center).
The Mayor of West Covina, Mike Touhey, is filing a lawsuit against the state for "failing to give the city adequate notice and failing to give the victims the rights they're entitled to." Mayor Touhey explains that "[The offender] is required to stay 35 miles away from the victim's home, and [the state] has violated that."
Steve Conklin's mother, Vivian, wanted to appear in shadow to protect the identity of her family. "I truly do understand what these parents are going through," says Vivian. "I am a victim of child molestation. I know what it's like on the other end. I also happen to have a child who is a sex offender."

"What is your point about [your neighbors'] objections to living next door to a man who lured a 6-year-old girl into his apartment with kittens, molested her, and then left her in a cardboard box?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Their objections are perfectly founded," says Vivian. "I know how it feels ... I'm totally aware of what these people want. They want him out of there ... "

"Do you have anything to offer that suggests they should not be concerned about living next to your son?" asks Dr. Phil. "He has not been rehabilitated, correct?"

"No, I do not," answers Vivian. "The parole department has not issued any kind of availability for counseling. But he is a born again Christian."
Vivian continues, "I'd like to state my son is scheduled for rehabilitation. He is with us literally 24 hours a day. He goes nowhere without us. He attends church ... "

"One of the things that concerns me is that you can't change what you don't acknowledge," says Dr. Phil. "I just heard you say that because your son had some sort of religious experience you now considered him to be rehabilitated ... If you aren't acknowledging that he is a clear and present danger to the children in the neighborhood, I don't think that they're going to take great comfort in knowing that you are watching him 24/7."
Dr. Marhall Voris, a registered sex offender therapist, says, "[Conklin] should not be out there if he's not in therapy, not being monitored, and not being properly supervised ... He's a clear and present danger ... If nothing else, why doesn't this guy have a monitor bracelet on [his ankle]?"

Since this show was taped, the state of California has determined that Steven Conklin is violating a residency restriction which requires a sex offender to live at least 35 miles from his victim. He was given 30 days to move out of his mother's home.