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OC Priest Sentenced To Year In Prison For Molesting An Altar Boy in 90s

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A former priest who pleaded guilty to molesting an altar boy in the 1990s at St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa was sentenced to a year in prison.Denis Lyons, 78, will also be sentenced to five years of probation and will have to complete 400 hours of community service (there is apparently only one nonprofit that convicted sex offenders are allowed to volunteer for), according to City News Service. He will have to register as a sex offender for life. If he violates the terms of probation, he could face up to 14 years in state prison.

The molestation happened over a period from 1992 until 1995, starting when the young victim was 9 years old. Lyons pleaded guilty to masturbating with the victim twice in the parish rectory and twice in the church sacristy.

Deputy District Attorney read a statement from the victim, explaining how the experience with Lyons destroyed his faith and sent him spiraling into drug addiction: "My life is a living hell because of this man. He has lied time and time again and the Catholic church bailed him out every time."

The victim's mother read a statement at the hearing: "My son's whole being changed because of the sex abuse committed on him by Denis Lyons. He became sullen, bitter, resentful, angry, depressed, withdrawn, disrespectful of authority, stopped believing in himself. He lost his innocence. His grades went from A's and B's to D's and mostly F's. He has felt deep pain and shame."

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Lyons was put on leave from the church in 2002 and charged in 2003 with molesting another child, who was present at the sentencing hearing. The second victim alleged that he was molested starting in 1979, but the case couldn't be prosecuted because the case was past the statute of limitations. Lyons left the priesthood in 2004.