Sex abuse charge dismissed against former Modesto police officer

rahumada@modbee.comJune 14, 2013 

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    Rosalio Ahumada
    Title: Courts reporter
    Coverage areas: Criminal cases, breaking news
    Bio: Rosalio Ahumada has been a reporter at The Bee for more than seven years, previously covering crime and public safety issues. He also has worked at the Merced Sun-Star, covering education.
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Stanislaus County prosecutors on Friday dropped a criminal charge against a Coulterville man because the reported molestation is claimed to have occurred at a home in Mariposa County.

The defendant, Phinas Orby Hatton, 69, faced one count of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child younger than 14 stemming from the alleged abuse 25 years ago.

Hatton initially was facing four other child sexual abuse charges in alleged acts dating to 1969, which since have been dismissed because they didn't fall within the statute of limitations.

Because the other allegations were dropped, the criminal case's focus narrowed to the time period from January to March 1988.

The alleged victim in the remaining charge testified in a preliminary hearing last month that Hatton had molested her since she was 8 or 9 years old, according to a prosecution motion filed Tuesday in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

She testified she was molested at a home on Jalapa Way in La Grange in Mariposa County, according to the court document. Because it has no jurisdiction in this case, the Stanislaus County district attorney's office dismissed the charge against Hatton.

The initial allegations of sexual abuse dating to 1969 included locations in Stanislaus and Mariposa counties. State law allows alleged sex crimes from different counties to be prosecuted together.

Now it will be up to Mariposa County prosecutors to decide whether to file charges against Hatton.

Hatton is a former Modesto police officer, according to city records. He worked for the department from 1966 until 1981, when he resigned, records show. There is no indication that any of the allegations involved children Hatton encountered while working as a police officer.

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