|Former Local Priest Won't Face Charges
By Samantha Yale
July 27, 2007
California — A priest who taught at St. Joseph High School will not face charges stemming from an allegation that in June 2006 he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman who had just graduated from the high school.
Father Timothy Lane was investigated by Santa Barbara County sheriff's detectives on suspicion of one incident of sexual battery that reportedly happened at Lane's residence at the St. Joseph seminary in the 100 block of Patterson Road in Orcutt.
However, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office chose not to file charges due to insufficient evidence. The decision was formalized in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on July 12.
Lane left the school in June 2006, said St. Joseph High School Vice Principal Joanne Poloni. His departure from the school was in order to take a year-long leave of absence, and it happened before school officials became aware of the allegation against him, she said.
Poloni said she did not know of Lane's present whereabouts and said he would not be returning to the school.
The Sheriff's Department was notified of the alleged sexual assault in September by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, after church officials had done their own investigation, according to Santa Barbara County sheriff's Sgt. Erik Raney.
Raney said the Sheriff's Department passed the results of their investigation onto the county district attorney's office.
"We reviewed the case, and determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute," said Gene Martinez, assistant district attorney for the North County. He said prosecutors did not pursue a case based on the wishes of the woman who had made the allegations.
Martinez said a decision by prosecutors not to file a case based on insufficient evidence is not unusual.
"We have a duty as prosecutors not to just seek convictions, but to dispassionately and impartially evaluate the evidence, and take into consideration the wishes of the victim in making our final decision," he said.
Steve Balash, the Santa Barbara-based attorney who represented Lane in the matter, declined to talk about the issue.
"I really don't want to discuss it," he said. "I just want to move on."
"That's the end of it," Balash added. "This case is over, and that's it."
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles could not be reached for comment.
Samantha Yale can be reached at 739-2159 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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