Former priest heading to trial

The trial of a former Costa Mesa priest accused of molesting a 7-year-old parishioner is scheduled to begin Monday.

Denis Lyons, 77, is charged with four felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 years old, according to court records.

Lyons is accused of molesting a boy in the church rectory and sacristy at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa, according to archived reports from the Costa Mesa Police Department and Orange County District Attorney's office.

Lyons, who had been a resident at Leisure World in Seal Beach, was arrested July 20, 2009, while playing cards at a community center.

Police allege he molested a boy four times while the boy was a second and third grader at the Costa Mesa church's school between Jan. 1 1992 and Dec. 31, 1995, according to the release.

Lyons was formerly charged with molesting a child under the age of 14 between the years of 1978 and 1981, but the case was dismissed because of a Supreme Court ruling that year that determined it was unconstitutional to prosecute sex crimes going back indefinitely.

Lyons has pleaded not guilty to all four counts. He is set to appear in Santa Ana's Central Justice Center at 9:30 a.m., room C45. If convicted, he faces up to 14 years in prison.

--Lauren Williams

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