Nevada County prosecutors intend change in alleged child molestation case
Nevada County prosecutors say they intend to tweak the charges against Kenneth Byrnes, a change that would mean a new child sex conviction against him could warrant a possible life sentence.
Byrnes, 70, faces three counts of lewd act upon a child and a count of continuous sexual abuse — allegations from between 1997 and 2001, court records state.
He faces a maximum of eight years on each lewd act charge and a 16-year maximum sentence on the sexual abuse count, said Chris Walsh, assistant district attorney.
Walsh can increase the possible sentences by charging Byrnes in a different way.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” he said, noting that a previous plea offer for Byrnes is no longer valid.
Walsh intends to use a 2011 no contest plea made by Byrnes to continual sexual abuse of a child to enhance the sentence. That 2011 plea means a new conviction would warrant a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, the prosecutor said.
Byrnes’ public defender couldn’t be reached for comment.
“We’ve already informed the defense what we’ll be doing,” Walsh said.
Byrnes’ next court appearance hasn’t been scheduled.
Prosecutors filed charges against Byrnes earlier this year after the victim came forward. He remained Wednesday in the Nevada County Jail under $300,000 in bond.