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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Dismissal Closer in Molestation Case : Crime: Prosecutors won't challenge defendant's appeal of charges stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred between 1967 and 1972.

November 08, 1994|MARK SABBATINI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Prosecutors have decided not to challenge an appeal by a Santa Clarita man who claims he was unfairly charged under a new law with molesting four girls more than 20 years ago, a move that could lead to the case against him being dismissed.

William Lynch, 64, is awaiting trial in Los Angeles Superior Court on eight charges of lewd conduct with a minor. He is being prosecuted under a state law that took effect Jan. 1 allowing child molestation suspects to be charged within a year of the date the alleged crime is reported to police, regardless of when it occurred. Lynch has pleaded not guilty.

But his attorney, Frank Di Sabatino, appealed to the state's 2nd District Court of Appeals, arguing it was unfair to apply the law retroactively to Lynch.

Prosecutors with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office sent a letter to the appeals court Friday announcing they would not challenge the appeal.

"We believe that there simply is no legal basis for us to go forward with the case at this point in time," said Deputy Dist. Atty. George M. Palmer, acting head of the district attorney's appellate division.

The appeals court usually grants unchallenged motions, Palmer said. A ruling is expected within the next couple of weeks, and charges against Lynch will be dropped if his motion is granted, said Palmer.

Lynch, free on $100,000 bail, said in a telephone interview Monday that he is cautious about the chances that the case against him will be dropped.

"When a judge tells me it's dismissed, then I can start feeling relief," he said.

Di Sabatino was more optimistic, concluding "it is more likely than not" the case will be dismissed.

Lynch was charged in June with molesting three sisters and their childhood friend from March, 1967, to July, 1972, when their ages ranged from 7 to 13. He often took care of the sisters and prosecutors say he committed the molestations at his Van Nuys apartment and a home he later purchased in Saugus.

One of the girls, now an adult, secretly taped telephone and face-to-face conversations with him about the alleged incidents at the direction of authorities in July, 1993.

Di Sabatino asked judges during two hearings to dismiss the case, arguing the law was being unfairly applied to Lynch. The attorney said a three-year statute of limitations existed at the time of the alleged molestations. Both times the requests were overturned, leading prosecutors to believe the appeals court would uphold an order to make Lynch stand trial.

But Palmer said further research convinced prosecutors the new law could not be applied to Lynch, because of previous statute of limitations laws.

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