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Former priest pleads not guilty

Seal Beach man faces second round of accusations that he molested children from his church.

August 11, 2009|By Joseph Serna

A former Costa Mesa priest pleaded not guilty Tuesday to molesting a boy for three years in the early 1990s.

Denis Lyons, 75, the former priest of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, pleaded not guilty to four counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old.

Lyons is accused of masturbating a boy twice when he was between 7 and 9 years old in Lyons’ room in the parish rectory and twice in the church sacristy. This is the second time Lyons has faced accusations of molesting children. County prosecutors charged him in 2003, but a state Supreme Court ruling invalidated the charges because they were not within the statute of limitations. The court ruled in 1994 that any sexual assault that occurred before then had a six-year statute of limitations, meaning if the abuse was before 1988, the abuser could not be charged.

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Prosecutors were still able to use corroborating evidence from one of the alleged victims from the 2003 charges to bring the latest charges against Lyons.

Earlier this year, Jonathan Kirrer, 24, sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County, claiming Lyons had abused him in the early ’90s. The case was quickly settled, and the terms of it were not disclosed.

Lyons is out on bail and lives in Leisure World in Seal Beach. He is due back in court for a pretrial hearing Oct. 2.


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