The preliminary hearing for a former Chowchilla Police officer accused of sexual misconduct has been set for next month.
Although he was scheduled for his hearing last Friday, Madera County Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Soldani ordered Tyler Hormel, 35, to return to court on Aug. 12. There it will be decided if there is enough evidence to put Hormel on trial.
The decision to postpone the preliminary hearing came after Hormel’s defense requested an extension to further examine the evidence.
“The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is in fact sufficient probable cause for the case to go further, and ultimately, end up in a jury trial,” said Madera County District Attorney David A. Linn. “Which we, from the prosecution point of view, are quite convinced will be the case.”
According to Linn, Hormel faces charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, including two counts of forcible rape, and three counts of unlawful sexual acts with a minor under the age of 16. The acts, Linn stated, reportedly occurred between December 2015 and February.
“I don’t take these cases lightly, and whether it be a police officer, or John Q citizen, I want to make sure that before we charge a case, we believe the acts alleged in that complaint did in fact occur, and they were unlawful,” Linn said. “Because our obligation is to do justice, and we want to protect the public, we want to protect the youth in Madera County. But, by the same token, we are not going to be about charging people who we are not convinced committed an unlawful act.”
Following his arrest, Hormel’s job with the Chowchilla Police Department was terminated. He had previously worked as a school resource officer.
“I am deeply saddened by the arrest,” Chowchilla Police Chief David Riviere said in a press release. “My heart goes out to the victim, the family of the victim, the Hormel family, the staff at the Police Department, city staff, the school district, and the entire Chowchilla community.”
Linn has stated that Hormel knew the alleged victim, but according to Riviere, the victim was not attending any of the schools that Hormel was supervising. This in turn was confirmed by Linn.