Some felons will be let go

archive_import

By AMY LINDBLOM

Because of a United States Supreme Court ruling last week, three middle-aged, self-admitted child molesters who committed their crimes in Tuolumne County will be set free.

On June 26, in a 5-4 vote, U.S. Supreme Court justices overturned a 1993 California law that allowed prosecutors to try child molesters even though the crimes occurred decades earlier.

The justices ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, prosecutors cannot retroactively erase statutes of limitations.

Because of the ruling, John Senser, 54, of Sonora and Jeffrey Koski, 48, of Sparks, Nev. will soon be set free. Just when is unclear. John Celestre, 59, of Sugar Pine will have his sentence shortened.

All three were prosecuted under California Penal Code 803(g), which allowed for prosecution of molestation cases as long as charges were filed within one year of the crime being reported to law enforcement. The law changed the statute of limitations for child molestation and paved the way for the prosecution and convictions of hundreds of suspects in California.

Senser last year pleaded guilty to molesting a 3-year-old girl 13 years ago and was sentenced to eight months in the county jail and five years' probation.

Celestre molested a 6-year-old boy seven years ago and in December 2002, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to a molestation in 2002 and must still serve time for that offense, said Michael Knowles, Tuolumne County assistant district attorney.

Koski earlier this year admitted molesting his 13-year-old nephew more than 18 years ago and was sentenced to three years in prison.

"Eventually, all three cases will be dismissed," Knowles said. "Because of this ruling, there will be no more prosecution of old child abuse cases. And what's sad is that child molestation has always been a crime, but the defendants can get off because of the statute of limitations."

Knowles is especially dismayed about the Koski case because the Nevada man pleaded guilty twice to the crime in two separate plea bargain agreements. In the first, reached in December, Koski pleaded guilty in exchange for a shorter sentence, and specifically gave up his right to appeal.

11506221
The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Tuesday August 30, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
Woman dies of injuries in Highway 120 accident

08/24/2016

The woman who spent Monday night pinned in an SUV after an ... more

Jobs program seeks to help young adults

08/25/2016

Kristina Contreras was 18, a high school dropout, and the mother of ... more

Bus driver shortage causes problems for schools

08/25/2016

A widespread shortage of bus drivers has left schools across the county ... more

Convicted murderer Thomas Hyatt to remain in prison

08/23/2016

Convicted murderer Thomas Hyatt won’t be getting out of prison anytime soon. ... more