The Orange County Grand Jury has indicted a Laguna Hills attorney for allegedly sodomizing a neighbor boy and providing him with marijuana and cocaine during an 8-month period ending last fall, authorities said Wednesday.
A 15-count indictment was filed Tuesday against Eric Paul Lampel, 34, who surrendered Wednesday afternoon before Orange County Superior Court Judge Myron S. Brown in Santa Ana.
Brown released Lampel on his own recognizance on the condition he not live in his neighborhood and that he stay away from both the alleged victim and witnesses in the case, according to Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Connie Johnson. She said Lampel is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges March 16.
The district attorney's office normally files charges in criminal cases. But Johnson said she brought the case before the grand jury to "evaluate the credibility of all the witnesses," some of whom are juveniles.
Lampel could not be reached for comment Wednesday. However, his attorney, Paul S. Meyer of Costa Mesa, released the following statement:
"These charges are absolutely unfounded. This previously rejected case will never stand the light of day. Mr. Lampel looks forward to presenting the truth in court."
Meyer would not elaborate on his contention that the district attorney's office had at some point chosen not to pursue the case.
Johnson, who will prosecute the case, declined to provide many details about either the victim or the alleged crimes.
She said the charges against Lampel include sodomy of a minor under the age of 16, oral copulation of a minor, furnishing marijuana and cocaine to a minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor--a misdemeanor--and misdemeanor child molestation.
Prosecutors have also accused Lampel--who specializes in personal injury, real estate and business law--of violating a position of trust with the alleged victim, a charge that could result in additional penalties.
Johnson alleges that the crimes took place between December, 1987, and Sept. 6, 1988. She would say only that Lampel "was a neighbor to several youths in the Laguna Hills area. The alleged victim was one of these youths."
Johnson said there is one youth alleged to be the main victim, but there are "some other minors who can give some evidence and will give some evidence."
The investigation, conducted by the Sheriff's Department and the district attorney's office, was launched after "one of the mothers went to the Sheriff's Department," Johnson said, declining to elaborate.
Johnson said she took the unusual action of presenting evidence in the case to the grand jury because "I wanted to evaluate the credibility of all the witnesses and there was one witness who wanted to go before the grand jury.
"So I figured if we were doing one we might as well do the whole thing" before the grand jury, she said.
A secretary at Lampel's Laguna Hills law office said Lampel "wants to cooperate with the press," but he was not immediately available for comment. She called the charges "very vicious, untrue allegations."
Johnson could not be reached later Wednesday regarding the assertion that the district attorney's office at some point chose not to prosecute Lampel.