Former DV counselor charged with child molestation out on bail

Jeff O’Hearn, the former Student Support Counselor at Dougherty Valley who was accused of child molestation, has been released on bail, with Judge Cheryl Mills stating that there is insufficient evidence against his case.

Mills explained that she found the sexual assault accusations from the alleged victim to be questionable due to primarily two factors: a lack of evidence and the time gap, which spanned for approximately 8 years.

Because of the time gap, there is no physical evidence left from the alleged crime scene.

In addition, when interviewed, students, who worked with O’Hearn back when he was an elementary school teacher, noted that at most, he has “[rubbed] the backs of students over the clothing” (Contra Costa Times).

Mills mentioned that she found it likely that the memories of the alleged victim may be false after citing an American psychologist, Elizabeth Graswich, who specializes in recovering the memories of abused children.

Chris Walpole, the prosecutor for this case, argued that the alleged victim’s statement was a “very convincing disclosure”.

“People have a hard time coming forward in this type of case,” Walpole adds.

He also noted that the accusation is not only surfacing now, as the alleged victim has spoken to her friend before in eighth grade.

Nonetheless, Mills is hesitant to keep O’Hearn in custody, as she does not see him as a flight-risk nor a direct threat to society.

“I need to know why you think he’s going to do it again,” Mills requests of Walpole.

Patrick Clancy, O’Hearn’s attorney, states that beyond insufficient evidence, O’Hearn has had no criminal record during his time as a teacher and thus does not present a public safety risk.

As a result, Mills has lowered the bail from $1 million to $400,000 and has released him from custody, though he is placed on electronic home detention.