Probation officer to be tried in sexual misconduct case | NevadaAppeal.com

Probation officer to be tried in sexual misconduct case

F.T. Norton
ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com
Aaron Lewis
ALL |

Former alternative sentencing officer Aaron Lewis was bound over Monday on 22 counts of sexual misconduct in the alleged molestations of six female probationers.

“I think the state has proven there’s probable cause here that Mr. Lewis committed the offenses,” said Senior Justice of the Peace Edward Dannan. “In a vacuum perhaps, if it had been one person or two persons, then it would have been less likely … for all the allegations to be true. But with the sheer numbers of persons who testified and the similarity of testimony, it seems to me that it’s incredible to think that all these persons can get together and tell a story that would be in any way consistent. The credibility of the witnesses and the defendant, should he choose to testify, we’ll leave to a jury to decide.”

Lewis, 36, initially was charged with molesting seven women while working for the Carson City Department of Alternative Sentencing between November 2009 and September 2010. The department monitors people on probation or out on bail for the court. On Monday when Deputy Attorney General Ronda Clifton revealed that one victim could not be found, three of the charges were dismissed.

During the preliminary hearing, the bulk of which was held in early June, Lewis’ attorney Larry Digesti brought out that the first victim, Melissa Mulder, 20, was a stripper at one time and a heroin addict. Mulder has also filed a civil suit against Carson City in the case, which Digesti asserted was motivation for her to lie.

“Melissa Mulder clearly has a financial interest in this case,” said Digesti. “She couldn’t run on Sept. 6 fast enough to go see a lawyer in Reno and intiate a lawsuit that is currently filed.”

Several of the other women also allegedly have substance abuse problems. All of the women had consumed drugs or alcohol, or both, on the nights in question, according to testimony.

The complaint alleges that Lewis used threats of arrest to force the women to disrobe and subjected the women to inspections of their genitals and breasts under the ruse that he was looking for drugs or needle marks.

One woman testified that when Lewis forced her to lift her dress and then reached out and touched her, she grabbed a marijuana pipe and blew smoke into his face. She then said Lewis fondled himself while touching her.

Digesti Monday called her testimony “remarkable.”

“At some point in time during the evening she picked up a pipe, smoked marijuana and blew smoke into Officer Lewis’ face. I cannot imagine that she, even herself, is stupid enough to do that in front of a police officer,” said Digesti in closing. “And then, remember her testimony, after all that is said and done, Officer Lewis left his card with his name on it. Officer Lewis, if you believe the state and (the victim), is gonna go in and do all these stupid, crazy, unbelievable things and then leave his calling card.”

On Monday, the defense called Lewis’ co-worker Justin Ryba, who testified that there was no time for Lewis to commit an offense against one of the accusers because Ryba was with him.

But with the burden in a preliminary hearing being just slight or marginal evidence, Dannan found that the state had proven there was probable cause to try Lewis on the charges.

No date has yet been set in District Court.

In April, after some six months of paid administrative leave, Lewis resigned from the Department of Alternative Sentencing.

Before his work in Carson City, he was employed by the Nevada Department of Corrections and as a deputy with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department, from which he was fired, according to court documents.

Lewis was unsuccessful in a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed against Lyon County in 2001.