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Trial set for former officer

The date for a trial setting has been announced for a former Chowchilla police officer who is charged with sex crimes involving a minor.

In Madera County Superior Court, Judge Ernest LiCalsi ordered Tyler Hormel, 35, on Friday to return to court on Sept. 30.

“As of today, we have not set a trial,” Madera County Deputy District Attorney Traci Wise said.

This date was determined when Hormel’s new attorney, Melissa Sahatjian, requested more time to examine the evidence. At his preliminary hearing on Aug. 12, Hormel was represented by attorney Michael McKneely, but McKneely is now off the case.

“He was hired to handle the preliminary hearing,” Sahatjian said. “And then the court appointed me to handle the case.”

Hormel, who served as a school resource officer in Chowchilla, 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. He also has been charged with having an unlawful relationship with a minor.

The alleged victim, known in the courtroom as “Jane Doe,” was Hormel’s foster daughter.

The incidents, according to Madera County Sheriff’s Det. John Grayson, began on Christmas Eve, 2015, when Hormel was giving the alleged victim a ride home.

“Jane Doe said she had been in Valley Children’s Hospital,” said Grayson at the preliminary hearing. “And on the way home, he pulled over somewhere between the hospital and the house.”

It was then, according to Greyson’s report of the victim’s testimony, that Hormel molested Doe.

The victim also claimed that she was forcibly raped by Hormel, Greyson said, with the first incident in January. Doe was 14 when all of this reportedly took place.

Hormel was arrested by Greyson in February, at a mental hospital in Sacramento.

McKneely, however, claimed that one witness, a friend of Jane Doe, and the friend’s mother had caught the victim in “lie, after lie, after lie.” McKneely also countered the claims of forcible rape by reading a series of text messages reportedly sent by Jane Doe. In these texts, defense indicated that the alleged victim was been pursuing Hormel romantically.

Wise objected that the texts did not void charges of rape, and stated that Hormel had taken advantage of the victim, who may have been fond of him.

“I am deeply saddened by the arrest,” Chowchilla Police Chief David Riviere said in a public statement. “My heart goes out to the victim, the Hormel family, the staff at the Police Department, city staff, the school district, and the entire Chowchilla community.”


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