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Former Orange Diocese Priest Arrested On Sex Abuse Charges

Apr 26, 2003 | AP

A retired Diocese of Orange priest accused of molesting a teenage boy at a Costa Mesa church more than 20 years ago was arrested Friday, authorities said.

Denis Lyons, 69, was taken into custody about 2:45 p.m. at his Seal Beach home by Costa Mesa police.

He is charged with one count of a lewd and lascivious act and four counts of oral copulation with a male under 16.

Lyons was jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail, pending a Tuesday arraignment. His attorney, Gary Pohlson, did not immediately return a message left after hours Friday.

"It is heart-wrenching that a priest may have engaged in such grave misconduct warranting criminal charges and an arrest," said Bishop Tod D. Brown. "It is our sincere hope that the system of justice will be upheld."

Lyons was placed on administrative leave a year ago after another man said the priest had abused him in 1979 when he was a minor. Lyons is now retired.

In this case, a 38-year-old man told Costa Mesa police last May that Lyons molested him for three years beginning in 1978, when he was between 13 and 16, according to the criminal complaint.

The alleged victim said the abuse occurred at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa.

The man told investigators that Lyons befriended his family and would often visit his home and discuss family issues with his father. He said his father arranged for the priest to counsel him for a drinking problem. He said most of the abuse occurred when he and Lyons met for the counseling sessions in a small room in the church rectory.

Lyons faces up to 10 years and eight months in prison if convicted of all charges.

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