June 5, 2009

Maciej Wieslaw Lata appears in court on molestation charges

Maciej Lata

By Rob Parsons, Willows Journal Staff writer

June 5, 2009

A Chico, Calif., man accused of trying to arrange meetings with a 12-year-old Orland girl he met online appeared briefly in court Friday morning, but did not enter a plea.

Maciej Wieslaw Lata, 24, was arrested May 26 at Lely Aquatic Park in Orland, following a month-long sting operation set up by the Orland Police Department. He faces one count of communicating with a minor with intent to commit lewd or lascivious acts and two counts of attempting to arrange meetings with a minor with intent to commit lewd or lascivious acts - all felonies.

If convicted, he faces between 5 to 7 years in prison and would be required to register as a sex offender.

Lata's attorney, Dane A. Cameron, on Friday asked Judge Donald C. Byrd for a week to allow him time to get caught up on the case.

Lata remained in custody Friday in Glenn County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Police were contacted in early May by the girl's parents after Lata allegedly made "inappropriate" advances through her MySpace page. Online conversations between Lata and a person he believed was the 12-year-old continued. However, Lata was actually communicating with an Orland police officer, police said.

Lata attempted twice to meet the girl. At the first meeting May 16 in Aquatic Park Lata reportedly struck up a conversation with an undercover officer assigned to wait for him, asking if anyone had seen the 12-year-old.

At the second meeting, on May 26, Lata was arrested. Police served a search warrant at Lata's Chico home and seized four computers at the same time he was being arrested in Orland.

Lata posted a $10,000 bail bond the same day and was released.

The girl's family filed for a restraining order against Lata on May 28 and expressed frustration about his release. In court documents, the family alleged that Lata told the girl she was "beautiful," "gorgeous," and "that he thinks about her constantly."

The family requested a 150-yeard stay-away order, claiming their daughter was "afraid to even switch classes during school."

Lata was re-arrested May 30 after Judge Roy G. Macfarland revoked his bail bond at the request of Orland police. Police wanted a higher bail amount because they believe Lata is "a real danger to the community," Chief Bob Pasero said.

Pasero said police do not believe Lata attempted to contact the victim while he was out of jail.

Lata is set to appear again June 12 in Glenn County Superior Court.


No comments: