Two Charges Dropped in Belant Child Molestation Case

By Karen Wilkinson
The Eureka Reporter

August 8, 2008

Two child molestation charges were dismissed Thursday against a former church youth leader, teacher’s aide and college student at his preliminary hearing, which is expected to end today.

Andrew Belant, 25, knew the four alleged male victims through his role as a junior youth leader at the Eureka First Presbyterian Church and from the after-school program at Lafayette Elementary School. He was also attending Humboldt State University to receive a B.A. and go on to teach.

District Attorney Investigator William Honsal testified about statements the boys made in interviews about the alleged sexual abuse and statements Belant made prior to him asking for an attorney.

When a search warrant on Belant’s home was executed March 1, Honsal said “he was stoic — he didn’t ask one question about why we were there, nothing.” Sheriff’s Office officials stopped by Belant’s home the previous night, Honsal testified, for a welfare check on a boy who was believed to have been there playing computer games.

When Honsal told Belant a kid told him he’d crossed a boundary, Belant said “that’s a serious allegation” and requested an attorney, Honsal testified.

Many of the alleged crimes took place at Belant’s homes — he lived on J Street in Eureka and later moved to the Cutten area — the alleged victims’ homes or the school site.

Belant was close friends with and considered part of the family in relation to one of the alleged victims, and spent the night at his home several times last summer. Several of the crimes are alleged to have occurred during those sleepovers.

One victim told his friend and another alleged victim to be careful of Belant and not to be alone with him, Honsal testified.

Belant is facing 20 counts of child molestation in connection to the victims, who are between 9 and 13 years old. Two counts of lewd or lascivious acts were dismissed by the District Attorney’s Office because they’re alleged to have occurred in another county.

The charges allege nine counts of lewd or lascivious acts, five counts of forced oral copulation and six counts in participating in oral copulation. One count of forced oral copulation upon a child younger than 14 and more than 10 years younger than the suspect carries a maximum sentence of 15 years to life.

Deputy District Attorney Kelly Neel will finish questioning Honsal today and Troy Garey with the Sheriff’s Office is expected to take the stand. Belant’s attorney Patrik Griego will cross-examine the witnesses, after which Judge W. Bruce Watson will rule whether there’s probable cause to hold Belant over on each charge.

(Karen Wilkinson can be reached at, or at 707-269-7441.)


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