LOCKPORT –Paul S. Turley did not appear for the resumption of his child sexual abuse trial this morning, and his wife also cannot be located, prosecutors told the judge.
Turley absconded during the lunch break Wednesday, after jury selection was completed for his trial on charges of molesting two girls between 1996 and 1998, beginning when they were five years old. The crimes allegedly occurred in North Tonawanda.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello said jails and hospitals in the region have been checked, with no sign of Turley, 47, who Wednesday told Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas that he now lives on Lincoln Avenue in Dunkirk.
Donatello said Mrs. Turley’s place of employment also says she is absent.
Defense attorney D. Daniel Stevanovic told the judge he tried to reach his client by phone last night and this morning, unsuccessfully. He also tried to contact him through Turley’s mother, who posted a $50,000 bail bond for her son after his arrest last year.
Donatello requested Farkas to order the bail forfeited, but the judge demurred. She told Stevanovic that she would give the mother 24 hours to get her son to court.
“If she can produce him, she won’t lose her money,” Farkas said.
None of the jurors apparently had been exposed to the publicity, and the trial continued with testimony from Officer Robert J. Cinquino, the North Tonawanda policeman who took the initial sexual abuse report from the girls.
On Wednesday, Stevanovic said he reached Turley by phone at about 2:30 p.m., and the defendant told him he was in a parking lot at a Tim Hortons.
There are three Tim Hortons in Lockport alone.
“He was very frightened” by the prospect of being jailed, Stevanovic said.
Farkas said in court that Stevanovic was concerned Turley might to do something to harm himself, but the defense attorney said in an interview, “He didn’t say, ‘I’m going to off myself.’ Like any attorney, I’m concerned about my client’s well- being.”
Asked after court if he expected Turley to show up today, Stevanovic said, “I have no idea.”
Turley sat through a day and a half of jury selection, which wrapped up at about 1 p.m. Wednesday. Stevanovic said he didn’t have lunch with Turley, as his client told him he planned “to sit here and meditate.”
Turley, who faces up to 39 years in prison if convicted on all charges, wasn’t around when court resumed with Farkas’ opening instructions to the jury and the attorneys’ opening statements.
Like all Niagara County Court defendants, Turley signed a form at his June 15 arraignment, allowing proceedings to go forward without him.
No announcement was made to the jury about why Turley wasn’t in court. “Maybe they won’t notice,” Farkas said.
Assistant District Attorney Cheryl L. Nichols said in her opening statement that the alleged crimes occurred in North Tonawanda, where Turley was then living, between August 1996 and June 1998.
The two girls were 5 when the abuse allegedly began. One of them said she was molested again by Turley on Christmas Day 2003, when she was 12.
Since the State Legislature has in effect repealed the statute of limitations for many sex crimes, Turley wasn’t in the clear when his alleged victims, now 21, came forward in November 2011.
Turley, who was living on North Bailey Avenue in Amherst when he was arrested, said in court Wednesday morning that he had moved to Dunkirk after being evicted from the Amherst residence about three months ago.
Stevanovic said Turley spent about a week in jail after his arrest before posting a $50,000 bail bond.