MADERA COUNTY – A North Fork man accused of unlawful sexual contact with a minor was back in count today for a bail review hearing and to set the date for trial.
Ed Lyons, 85, was arrested on Feb. 28 and was held to answer on 9 counts of child molestation after a preliminary hearing on Mar. 14. An amended complaint was later filed by the prosecution, raising the number of counts to 21.
Lyons’ attorney, Robert Troncoso, told the court he was disappointed in the pretrial release report, alleging that it summarily dismissed the possibility of Lyons being released awaiting trial.
“This is based on the charges themselves,” Troncoso argued. “Considering the age of my client, the age of these allegations, his ties to the community and his rapidly declining health, I hope the court will consider releasing him on his own recognizance.” He told the court that the defendant was a perfect candidate for an ankle monitor.
Troncoso said that Lyons does not pose a threat to the community and there is zero indication that he would not return to court for his scheduled appearances.
“I can’t see any reason not to give him the opportunity to help put his own case together,” said Troncoso. “He continues to profess his innocence. Everyone knows who he is and where he lives. He has written newspaper articles for many years. We’re keeping an 85 year old man in custody based on the nature of the charges.”
Deputy District Attorney Traci Wise argued that the defendant poses an extreme danger to the community, and that detectives are tracking down other victims.
“Just because this defendant is older than others doesn’t mean he is not a danger,” said Wise. “He needs to remain in custody to protect the community and the victim.”
Judge Dale Blea pointed out that the two reasons for keeping a defendant in custody are to ensure both the safety of the public and the probability that the accused will return for trial.
“Other factors to consider are the serious nature of the charges and the safety of the victim,” said the judge. “Evidence at the preliminary hearing was substantial that he participated in the crimes alleged while in a position of trust. Also, comments attributed to Lyons indicated that he was placing some responsibility on the victim.”
The judge ruled that, given the serious nature of the charges and the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing, bail will remain as set at $900,000.
Trial is scheduled for Sept. 16.