By Kimber Solana – TheCalifornian.com
After ordering a Salinas priest to stand trial on sex-abuse charges, a Monterey County Superior Court judge Friday lowered the clergyman’s bail, which the defendant posted a few hours later.
At the end of a preliminary hearing, Judge Terrance Duncan reduced the Rev. Antonio Cortes’ original bail of $750,000 to $100,000, saying prosecutors failed to provide evidence that Cortes posed a flight risk or any danger to the public.
Cortes, who was expected to be released from county jail Friday night, has his next court hearing July 8.
During Friday’s hearing, police provided about three hours of testimony, much of it graphic, before the judged ruled that the District Attorney’s Office has sufficient evidence to proceed with its case.
The 41-year-old priest, who was arrested in April at St. Mary of the Nativity Church, faces a felony charge of sodomy, a felony charge of possession of child pornography, and misdemeanor charges of child molestation and providing alcohol to a minor a 16-year-old boy.
The teenager, referred to in court as John Doe, told officers that his first encounter with Cortes occurred three years ago, Salinas police Detective Luis Bravo testified.
At the time, the boy was working part-time as a caretaker at a church in Greenfield where Cortes was serving as a priest, according to Bravo’s testimony.
The boy told investigators that Cortes began giving him “spiritual massages” after he’d complained of “medical problems,” the detective said. According to statements from the boy, Bravo said, Cortes would rub a piece of crystal on the boy’s forehead and massage his body.
The teenager told police that the massages didn’t become sexual until this past April, Bravo testified.
The teen said Cortes had asked him to buy a bottle of tequila while the boy was on a trip to Mexico, the detective said.
When he entered Cortes’ residence behind St. Mary’s at 1747 Second Ave., the teen told police, the priest invited him into his bedroom, where he was watching a movie on a laptop computer, Bravo testified.
By Ryan McCarthy, Appeal-Democrat
Jeffrey Scott Toro was sentenced today in Sutter County (Calif.) Superior Court to three years in prison for molesting a 13-year-old girl who had been a babysitter for his children.
The girl in a letter to the court wrote that because of Toro’s crime, “I was forced to grow up, to learn new words like ‘molest.'”
“No one should ever go through that. Ever,” she stated. “The only way to make it stop is putting people like Jeff in prison.”
The girl told her parents about what Vacaville resident Toro, 33, had done Feb. 22, 2008 when he came to the family home.
“It’s time for this nightmare for my daughter and our family to come to an end,” the girl’s father said in court before Toro was sentenced. “May the sword of justice penetrate the depths of his disgusting soul.”
Toro’s final words to 13-year-old girl after the molestation were “To be continued,” the father said.
Judge Chris Chandler sentenced Toro to prison.
“There is no doubt,” Chandler said, that the defendant “took advantage of a position of trust” in committing the crime.
While Toro has expressed remorse, the judge added, it is for getting caught rather what he did to the victim.
In court Toro said, “I’d like the healing to begin today” after his apology – “too little, too late,” Toro said – for his actions.
Toro’s parents wrote that their son is a dedicated husband who has helped coach a youth baseball program and umpired Little League.
“Jeff made an error in judgment,” they said of their son’s behavior, “but he did so with a great heart.”
Toro’s wife stated that the prospect of her husband going to prison is overwhelming.
By Lorna Rodriguez, San Mateo County Times
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO – Enough evidence exists to try the president of the Belmont Chamber of Commerce for allegedly molesting a girlfriend’s young daughter multiple times, a San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.
Michael Anthony Kazarian, a 50-year-old San Mateo resident, was held to answer on 18 criminal counts of child molestation by Judge Lisa Novak during a preliminary hearing on Thursday.
Kazarian has pleaded not guilty to the charges but remains in jail in lieu of $1.5 million in bail. A defense motion on Thursday to reduce bail was denied.
If convicted on all charges, he could face between 30 and 40 years, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
“We are strongly protesting the charges,” defense attorney Steve Chase said. “There is a lot that the police don’t know of in this case”…[Kazarian] is going to show that he is innocent and we hope to win the case.”
Prosecutors said Kazarian allegedly fondled the girl’s chest and genitals and made her bend over for spankings repeatedly between 1999 and 2002. The girl was between 8 and 10 years old at the time of the alleged molestations, San Mateo County District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.
Kazarian also made the child touch his genitals on one occasion, according to prosecutors. The girl reportedly didn’t come forward for years because she feared reprisal, prosecutors said.
“We are satisfied that we have taken another step to get him to trial where he can present his side of the story, and we will present our side, and the jury will decide whether he is guilty of these crimes,” Wagstaffe said.
Kazarian owns Beau Monde Flooring on Old County Road in Belmont. The company specializes in environmentally-friendly natural flooring and wool carpeting, according to its Web site.
He is expected to return to court on June 19 for his Superior Court arraignment.
By Rob Parsons, Willows Journal Staff writer
A Chico, Calif., man accused of trying to arrange meetings with a 12-year-old Orland girl he met online appeared briefly in court Friday morning, but did not enter a plea.
Maciej Wieslaw Lata, 24, was arrested May 26 at Lely Aquatic Park in Orland, following a month-long sting operation set up by the Orland Police Department. He faces one count of communicating with a minor with intent to commit lewd or lascivious acts and two counts of attempting to arrange meetings with a minor with intent to commit lewd or lascivious acts – all felonies.
If convicted, he faces between 5 to 7 years in prison and would be required to register as a sex offender.
Lata’s attorney, Dane A. Cameron, on Friday asked Judge Donald C. Byrd for a week to allow him time to get caught up on the case.
Lata remained in custody Friday in Glenn County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Police were contacted in early May by the girl’s parents after Lata allegedly made “inappropriate” advances through her MySpace page. Online conversations between Lata and a person he believed was the 12-year-old continued. However, Lata was actually communicating with an Orland police officer, police said.
Lata attempted twice to meet the girl. At the first meeting May 16 in Aquatic Park Lata reportedly struck up a conversation with an undercover officer assigned to wait for him, asking if anyone had seen the 12-year-old.
At the second meeting, on May 26, Lata was arrested. Police served a search warrant at Lata’s Chico home and seized four computers at the same time he was being arrested in Orland.
Lata posted a $10,000 bail bond the same day and was released.
The girl’s family filed for a restraining order against Lata on May 28 and expressed frustration about his release. In court documents, the family alleged that Lata told the girl she was “beautiful,” “gorgeous,” and “that he thinks about her constantly.”
The family requested a 150-yeard stay-away order, claiming their daughter was “afraid to even switch classes during school.”
Lata was re-arrested May 30 after Judge Roy G. Macfarland revoked his bail bond at the request of Orland police. Police wanted a higher bail amount because they believe Lata is “a real danger to the community,” Chief Bob Pasero said.
Pasero said police do not believe Lata attempted to contact the victim while he was out of jail.
Lata is set to appear again June 12 in Glenn County Superior Court.
By David Kelly, Los Angeles Times
Authorities have arrested a Phelan man on suspicion of sexually molesting his two teenage stepdaughters and having a baby with one of them.
The suspect’s wife also was arrested for allegedly knowing about the abuse but failing to stop it. Tony Slone, 43, was arrested in Chester, N.Y., Thursday after an investigation by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies indicated he had repeatedly molested his 13-year-old and 16-year-old stepdaughters.
His wife, Anita Slone, 47, was taken into custody in Victorville.
According to the sheriff’s department, a girl from Silverado High School in Victorville contacted them after seeing sexually explicit messages on her friend’s cellphone from the girl’s stepfather. Deputies interviewed the 16-year-old, who told them Slone had raped and molested her since she was 12 and she now had a 13-month-old child from him.
The girl’s 13-year-old sister alleged she had been molested since she was nine. Deputies said Slone was a long-haul truck driver who would take the girls on trips and molest them. They also said he was a registered sex offender who served eight years in prison for lewd acts on a child. A $1-million warrant was issued for his arrest. Slone is now awaiting extradition to California.
Anita Slone was arrested on suspicion of felony cruelty to a child and is being held on $100,000 bail.
Investigators believe there may be more victims as far away as New York and ask that anyone with information contact Deputy Mark James or Deputy James Marshall at (760) 241-2911. Callers may remain anonymous.
KCBA Fox 35
San Juan Bautista, Calif. – 58-year-old Joseph Hudson is being charged with several counts of molesting children under the age of 14. Under the conditional release agreement Hudson will wear a device to monitor alcohol consumption and he was told to stay away from schools and children.
The city of San Juan Bautista is a small community where everyone pretty much knows everyone else. So last week when news broke that a long time principal and current third grade teacher had been arrested for child molestation many people were shocked. But some of the dust has settled, and KION went to the School Board Meeting Wednesday to check in with the community.
Frank Reyes has two children who attend San Juan Elementary. He’s upset by the possibility that Hudson molested children, “It’s very disconcerting you send your children to school and hope their going to be safe. You don’t want that to have to be a consideration, something that weighs on you throughout the day wondering if they are safe,” said Reyes.
Reyes still plans on sending his youngest son to the school next year, and says Hudson is not guilty until convicted by a jury, “In the country we live in I’m all for due process of law and I think everybody is entitled to their rights. But you know, again it’s about keeping the children safe first, above anything else,” said Reyes.
Joyce Medeiros has been teaching at San Juan elementary for 24 years. Joseph Hudson was one of her teaching mentors, “I was devastated. I cried. I cried all weekend,” said Medeiros. Medeiros says most of the teachers support Hudson, but she says the accusations are shocking. “He is one of the best teachers we have and he taught me a lot. He’s a great teacher he’s great with the kids. I can’t say enough good things about him,” said Medeiros.
Joseph Hudson is that talk of San Juan Bautista, with supports and doubters. The long time teacher and principal will now await his trial. So far investigators say there are anywhere from 7 to 10 students who have come forward with accusations of inappropriate touching by Hudson.
He’ll be out on bail Thursday and expected back in court June 25th.
By The Appeal-Democrat
Jury selection was under way Wednesday in Yuba County Superior Court in the trial of Marysville towing company manager Joseph Griesa, who is facing multiple charges of sexually assaulting teenage girls who worked for him.
Opening statements by attorneys could take place as early as today according to Yuba County District Attorney Pat McGrath.
Griesa is charged with 13 felonies. He is free on $100,000 bail.
Charges include sexual battery, false imprisonment, assault likely to produce great bodily injury, forcible sexual penetration, oral copulation with a minor and concealment of a child from her legal guardian.
The alleged offenses involve five victims and occurred between April 2005 and November 2007. Each felony is punishable by three to eight years in prison.
A grand jury considered evidence from 21 witnesses. An indictment also charges that Griesa paid the girls without making unemployment insurance payments to the state.
Griesa pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is represented by Redwood City attorney Charles Smith.
In a related case, two Yuba-Sutter attorneys are charged with trying to bribe one of the alleged victims and with obstruction of justice. Prosecutors say Marysville attorney David Vasquez, who briefly represented Griesa, conspired with Yuba City attorney Jesse Santana to pay the girl $100,000 in exchange for her silence.
The attorneys claim they did nothing wrong by pursuing a civil settlement between Griesa and the girl and that police led them to believe criminal prosecution of Griesa was unlikely.
Arraignment of the attorneys was delayed this week until June 29. Neither has entered a plea to the felony charges.