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Ex-Stunt Man Gets 18 Years for Molestation

June 07, 1986

A former stunt man from Granada Hills was sentenced to 18 years in state prison Friday on charges of repeatedly molesting an 11-year-old boy whom he sponsored in the Big Brother program.

The man, Mark Dewayne Yerkes, 29, bowed his head and wept as San Fernando Superior Court Judge Robert A. Fratianne imposed the sentence. A jury in December convicted Yerkes of nine counts of sexually abusing the boy during 1983.

Howard R. Price, Yerkes' attorney, called the sentence "outrageous" and immediately filed a notice of appeal. Price said the boy had had a history of emotional problems before meeting Yerkes and fabricated the story of being molested.

The boy's mother testified in the sentencing hearing that her son, who nows lives in a psychiatric hospital, became emotionally disturbed because he was abused. Although the charges stemmed from later incidents, she said the molestations actually began shortly after Yerkes was assigned to be her son's Big Brother in 1981.

The woman has filed a civil suit against Big Brothers of Los Angeles and Yerkes on behalf of her son.

Speaking on his own behalf, Yerkes pleaded for the judge to grant him probation instead of a prison sentence. Yerkes denied molesting the boy and said during the hearing: "Even now, I hope nothing but the best for him. . . . I care for him."

Prosecutor Ken Loveman said Yerkes was dropped as a Big Brother immediately after the abuse was reported.

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