By Kelly Nix, Special to VeloNews.com
American professional cycling pioneer Jonathan Boyer was sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail and probation in a Salinas, California, courtroom after pleading guilty in September to 10 felony counts of child molestation.
Boyer, a resident of Seaside, California, was allowed to meet with family members before being taken into custody in handcuffs by a court bailiff. Boyer will serve his sentence in Monterey County Jail.
“I don’t think there is a chance in the world that Mr. Boyer will violate probation,” Boyer’s attorney, Tom Worthington, said in court. “What he did is a serious crime and it took him a while to understand how serious the consequences can be, but he does understand that now.”
Upon completion of his jail sentence, Boyer must serve five years of probation. Superior Court Judge Gary E. Meyer suspended a 20-year prison term on condition Boyer adheres to his terms of probation after he is released from jail. If he violates any of those terms he could be forced to serve the entire sentence in a state prison.
Boyer, 47, who was the first American to race in the Tour de France, admitted molesting an 11-year-old girl from September 1997 to September 2000.”For the life of me I can’t see where you thought this was going to go … ,” Meyer told Boyer in a Salinas courtroom. “You had to know this was wrong.”
Meyer called the cyclist’s behavior reprehensible but said that Boyer posed little danger to the victim or others and that he was a good candidate for rehabilitation. The judge acknowledged that Boyer never used force or duress when molesting the girl.
Meyer’s findings seemed to be based, in part, on input from a doctor’s psychological evaluation of Boyer, Boyer’s lack of a previous criminal record and his current remorse for the crimes.
Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Tim Roberts said Boyer is one of a small percentage of convicted child molesters who, according to California law, fit the criteria for rehabilitation. He said Boyer’s sentence was not based on his status in the community and anybody who fit the criteria would have received a similar sentence.
“In most of these cases they do not qualify for probation,” Roberts said. “I think for this case, this was a good resolution.”
Prior to and during the period of the sexual contact, Boyer and the girl conducted a relationship through e-mail.
Seaside police arrested Boyer on May 16 after the now 17-year-old girl told them Boyer had molested her during a period of five years. A complaint from the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office says he “engaged in substantial sexual conduct” with the girl.
Boyer pleaded to seven counts of child molestation and three counts of genital penetration, Roberts said.
When asked about the charges in July, Boyer said, “It’s a very unfortunate situation.” Worthington has advised Boyer not to speak to the press.
Meyer also ordered Boyer to pay $1,000 to the state restitution fund and an undetermined amount of money to the girl. He also must register as a sex offender.
Boyer competed in the Tour de France five times beginning in 1981, placing as high as 12th. Boyer raced under Cyrille Guimard and was once a teammate of three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond.