The molestation trial of a Seal Beach priest has been delayed for the third time this year.
The trial of Denis Lyons, 77, was scheduled to start on Tuesday, but it was moved to Feb. 21. Unlike last time, the Orange County District Attorney’s office did not object to the latest trial continuance.
The last time, “it was continued over our rigorous objections,” Susan Kang Schroeder, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said at the time. “We want to try this case as soon as possible. We believe justice has been delayed long enough.”
Lyons, a Leisure World resident, is accused of molesting a boy four times when the child was in the third and fourth grades between 1992 and 1995. The 77-year-old retired priest faces four counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 that allegedly took place in the rectory when he was a priest at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa. Lyons has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Costa Mesa Police arrested Lyons in 2009 while he was playing cards in a community room at Leisure World.
This is not the first time that Lyons has been accused of molesting a child.
In 2003, he faced charges of molesting a child at the same school between 1978 and 1981. In that case, two other men came forward as corroborating witnesses, claiming that the priest too had molested them as children. Lyons also pleaded not guilty in that case, but the case was thrown out because of the statute of limitations for the crime.
Because of a Supreme Court ruling, any molestation allegations from prior to 1988 are too old to try. It wasn’t until 1994 that a law passed that waved the six-year statute of limitations for sex crimes for victims of child molestation.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, evidence form the alleged earlier crime will be used in the current case as independent corroboration.
In addition to being a priest at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa, Lyons is known to have been a priest at St. Edwards the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point and St. Mary’s by the Sea Catholic Church in Huntington Beach. Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been victimized is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Tim Craig at (714) 347-8558.