SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — A Sonoma man was sentenced to 10 months in jail and four years’ probation in Sonoma County Superior Court Monday morning for groping six women in Sonoma and Petaluma over an 11-month period.
Samuel Lyons, 37, pleaded guilty to committing a felony lewd and lascivious act with a 14-year-old girl in August 2012 and four misdemeanor counts of sexual battery against adult women between September 2011 and August 2012.
Lyons had faced up to seven years in prison for the crimes. Deputy District Attorney Rosanne Darling asked Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite for the 10-month jail sentence.
“He brought absolute stress, chaos and fear to the victims,” Darling said.
The victims were caught off guard in public places when Lyons unexpectedly grabbed their breasts or buttocks, Darling said.
“He is a sexual predator and belongs behind bars,” Darling said.
Lyons’ attorney Steve Gallenson asked the judge to sentence his client, a former Peace Corp volunteer in South America, to probation. He said Lyons is remorseful and has been getting treatment for his behavior.
“This is a mental health issue. He knows it was wrong. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to lock him up, but he can be punished in a way that will allow him to continue down that road” of treatment, Gallenson said.
Lyons admitted to and provided details about each of the offenses during the investigation by the Sonoma Police Department, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said when Lyons pleaded guilty in November.
Lyons was arrested Aug. 14, minutes after he groped a 21-year-old woman in the parking lot of the Safeway store in Sonoma. The victim was able to take a picture of the suspect’s Honda and license plate with her cellphone and then notified Sonoma police.
Lyons was wanted before his arrest on a warrant for grabbing a woman’s breast at a medical facility in Sonoma in May 2012.
Thistlethwaite told Lyons his conduct was terrifying and non-consensual. She ordered Lyons to report to the North County Detention Facility on Jan. 25 to serve his 10-month term.
“I would remand you today if you were not doing so well” with treatment, Thistlethwaite said.
She said the prosecution made a generous offer in light of the maximum prison sentence Lyons faced.
Lyons also was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.