Bail was reduced Wednesday for a former Virginia City teacher who was arrested Tuesday on charges of sexual assault.
William Beeson, 58, appeared before Justice of the Peace Annette Daniels and dozens of Beeson supporters at the hearing in Storey County Justice Court.
Beeson, who has lived in Virginia City for about 30 years, is charged with felony sexual assault on a child under 16 years of age, an alternative felony charge of sexual assault and a charge of gross misdemeanor unlawful contact with a child.
According to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday, the sexual assault charge stems from the allegation that Beeson engaged in a sex act at his Virginia City home between June 1995 and June 1996 with a then-15-year-old boy. The third count relates to Beeson's alleged "rubbing, petting, and or fondling" between January 2007 to May 2007 of a 16-year-old boy.
The allegations related to the third count came to light in August and the Storey County School Board fired Beeson from his position with the district.
Defense Attorney Virgil Bucchianeri asked that Beeson be released on his own recognizance, citing his length of time in the area and his unmarked criminal record.
"He's going to make his appearance in any event. He's tied to this community," said Bucchianeri, who noted he'd known Beeson for more than 20 years. "He is not a flight risk. I just don't see that. I could be wrong, but then I'd be in trouble."
Deputy District Attorney Laura Grant, however, opposed a release without bail or a reduction.
"This is a man who is charged with an offense that could put him in prison for the rest of his life," she said.
"The state believes that despite his longevity in this community, an OR release is inappropriate and the bail of $150,000 is warranted."
Judge Daniels said she had also known Beeson for "25, 30 years" and that she was aware of his reputation in the community. She said she did not agree he should be released without bail, but that she could reduce the bail to $25,000.
As a condition of his release Beeson is to not have contact with the alleged victims or their families, he can not leave Northern Nevada without prior court approval and he must surrender his passport.
Beeson has traveled extensively in the U.S. and recently taught English for a semester in China.
A popular English and Theater Arts teacher at Virginia City High School, Beeson was placed on administrative leave in May 2007 after being accused of improper conduct with a student. He was fired in August, but District Attorney Harold Swafford decided there was not enough evidence of a crime to file charges against him.
In December, Swafford asked his newly appointed deputy Grant to review the case and on Tuesday, Beeson was arrested at his job as artistic director for Piper's Opera house.