Sex offender found camping behind theater

Police arrested a wanted sex offender who was camping behind the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Elizabethan Stage, adjacent to Lithia Park, early Wednesday.

Mark Lee McSweeney, 42, had two Douglas County warrants for his arrest, one for failing to register as a sex offender and one for a parole violation, police said.

When police found him at 12:44 a.m. in the first block of South Pioneer Street, he was in possession of methamphetamine and marijuana, they said. He was sleeping underneath stairs on the west exterior of the theater, Ashland police Chief Terry Holderness said.

"We're obviously always concerned by a situation like this," he said. "We had a sex offender who was not registered, so we didn't know where he was staying or what he was doing."

McSweeney was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on the warrants and charges of criminal trespass in the second degree and unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He was cited for unlawful possession of marijuana.

His bail is set at $25,500.

Police believe McSweeney came to Ashland Tuesday with another registered sex offender, who was arrested for violating his probation that day.

Officers do not believe either man is connected to a string of sexual assault cases in Ashland this winter, Holderness said.

"We have absolutely no reason to believe that," he said. "We don't believe he was in town that long."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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