S.F. Man Fails To Register As Sex Offender -- Because He's Dead

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According to the state's sex offender registry, Nicholas Chaykovsky has been in violation of registration requirements since Sunday. He has a decent excuse. He's dead.  

Chaykovsky died at age 61 last month after suffering a heart attack. And though the San Francisco Police Department sex offender unit explicitly informed the Department of Justice about his demise, the DOJ hasn't deleted Chaykovsky's profile from the Megan's Law Web site yet. So, as seen above, Chaykovsky is still caught up in the red tape of  the state's byzantine sex offender laws, even from the great beyond. 

Chaykovsky was featured as "Mr. C." in our December story on how Jessica's Law forces nearly all sex offenders paroled to San Francisco into homeless, since they are forbidden from having an address within 200 feet of a park or school. Last month, the California Supreme Court upheld the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's practice of forcing all San Francisco sex offenders paroled after the law's passage in Nov. 2006 into de facto homelessness, while punting objections about the law's overall constitutionality back to the lower courts to sort out. 

The San Francisco Medical Examiner ruled Chaykovsky died from a heart attack stemming from heart disease and an infection brought about by a suicide attempt 12 years ago. (Official cause of death: "suicide.") But Chaykovsky's case managers and acquaintances say it was the constant stress of being homeless that "killed him."

"Basically, he wasn't used to the street," says Ron Sanders, his case manager at the Transitions Clinic, a city program for parolees run out of Southeast Health Center. "He had almost three years left living [homeless on parole]; there's no way he would have made it. When something like that happens to you, if you don't have the desire to live, you're not going to make it. He didn't have any fight in him."

Like the dozens of other sex offenders living in RVs, vans, or simply sleeping on the street, the 61-year-old Chaykovsky had spent many nights in a chair at the drop-in center at a homeless shelter on Bryant Street. (CDCR rules consider signing up for a bed at a homeless shelter as establishing a residence, while just falling asleep in a chair at the drop-in center is not.)

Another homeless sex offender wrote an e-mail to the Weekly, stating  Chaykovsky "was always too timid to take a bed [at the homeless shelter] and risk a parole violation ... i can't help wonder whether 'sleeping' in chairs for almost 5 months caused his attack by sheer stress or deep-vein thrombosis .... his pathetic passing angers and depresses me while I'm struggling against the same pernicious pressures." (In the December story, SF Weekly agreed to withhold Chaykovsky's name and didn't print photos of his face due to his concerns about his own safety. Since his death is a matter of public record and his safety is no longer an issue, SF Weekly has decided to release his name.)

Inspector Jim Serna of the SFPD sex offender unit says the claims that extenuating circumstances of Chakkovsky's Kafka-esque existence killed him are unjustified. Since the death was ruled a "suicide," the inspector says Jessica's Law cannot be blamed.

"I wouldn't see any correlation between that at all," Serna says. He says the police find out that registered sex offenders die all the time. "It's usually age. Most of the guys who die [while on the sex offender registration] aren't affected by Jessica's Law because they've been off parole for a while."

San Francisco parole supervisor Armel Farnsworth said among the sex offenders affected by Jessica's Law, "I can't recall anyone who's had their parole terminated in such a manner." Farnsworth, too, said Chaykovsky had other health problems. "He was rather rotund." 

Chaykovsky was arrested in 1998 and eventually convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child and producing obscene material of a child, after he was discovered to have made a video tape of a nude, 8-year-old girl. After being caught, he attempted suicide twice -- once via shooting himself in the mouth, which deformed his face, and once from drinking a glass of antifreeze. He served nine years in state prison before making parole in October.

In a December interview, Chaykovsky said he expected to live about another 15 years, and wanted to follow his parole rules to the letter in order to avoid going back to prison. Asked about whether he was happy he survived his suicide attempts he said, "I'm kind of in-between. I'm hoping things will work out." 

Chaykovsky had his share of medical problems after the suicide attempt and a massive weight-gain in prison. He said he had some short-term memory loss, and had broken tear ducts. While walking around the city, he had to stop often due to exhuastion and frequent heartburn-like chest pains. Both of Chaykovsky's older brothers died while he was in prison. Sanders recalled that Chaykovsky said his brothers had died of heart attacks, and Chaykovsky had made an appointment to get his own heart checked out at the clinic. 

He never made it to the appointment. Billie Percy is a a case manager at the Northern California Service League, which runs a drop-in center for parolees where Chaykovsky spent many of his days. She says his eye had swollen up with fluid in the days before his heart attack. Before heading to the hospital for help in mid-February, Chaykovsky talked to her about how he had shot himself in the mouth years ago when the police arrived at his house to arrest him.

"He went on to say he was so remorseful for what he had done," Percy said, "and he said he wished his life could have been different. ...It was really like, man, did he know this was going to happen? I know I was the last person he had a conversation with."
 
Suffering from his eye condition, Chaykovsky got a ride to General Hospital from another parolee. While in the emergency room, he had a heart attack. Sanders says Chaykovsky was put on life support, but never regained consciousness. General Hospital officials called Sanders on Feb. 18th to say they were awaiting permission from the state to take Chaykovsky off life support. Sanders called Chaykovsky's social worker on the 19th and found out he had died while still on life support the night before. (General Hospital will not release details about his medical care, but the Medical Examiner says his time of death was 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 18.)

Percy says Chaykovsky's remains were cremated by the state. No funeral service was held.


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