While his bail was reduced, more charges were filed Friday against an Escondido businessman accused of sexually assaulting five young boys, as well as molesting a girl and raping a woman.
Richard James Sears, 47, was arrested Aug. 29 following a Riverside County sheriff’s investigation into child sex abuse allegations going back to 1999
Some of the alleged assaults happened in San Diego County, others in Riverside County, authorities said.
During a bail review hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice today, Sears’ attorney, Paul Pfingst, persuaded Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez to reduce the defendant’s bond requirement based on his lack of prior criminal history. Hernandez ordered Sears to be held on bail of $1 million instead of $5 million.
As of early this afternoon, Sears remained jailed at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Deputy District Attorney Will Robinson unsuccessfully contested the bail reduction, submitting a second amended complaint against Sears, bringing the number of felony charges against him to 32. There were six charges originally.
“I filed the complaint in good faith,” Robinson told City News Service. “I believe in this case and that this defendant committed the acts alleged.”
The new counts include forcible sodomy of a child under 14 years old, lewd acts on a child under 14 and sentence-enhancing allegations of targeting multiple victims in a sex crime.
According to court papers, 20 of the alleged sexual offenses — including the molestation of a girl and rape of a woman, both identified only as Jane Does — happened in San Diego County.
Robinson said that because Riverside County investigators were the first to seek charges, the county gained jurisdiction in the case.
“The Escondido Police Department has been conducting its own investigation,” the prosecutor said. “I asked San Diego County for permission to file all the charges here, and they agreed. We’re interested in the same thing — seeking justice for the victims.”
The charges stem from the defendant’s alleged contact with five boys — identified in court documents only as John Does 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 — in the early 2000s. The investigation culminated in the rape allegation, from 2011, and alleged lewd acts on a girl, whose identity was not released.
Robinson said Sears is not related to any of the victims. The prosecutor declined to provide further details.
Sears is a software development professional and owned a dotcom, selling it for a substantial profit, according to investigators.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Glenn Williams said detectives were contacted Aug. 6 regarding “multiple child molestations,” after which they spoke with two alleged victims and began gathering evidence in support of an arrest warrant, leading to the defendant being taken into custody at his residence, Williams said.
— City News Service
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