A Madera County judge on Tuesday set a July 8 preliminary hearing date in the case against a former Chowchilla police officer accused of raping a teenage girl.
Shackled at the waist and wearing a red jailhouse jumpsuit, Tyler Jensen Hormel, 35, said little during the brief hearing before Judge Joseph Soldani. At the preliminary hearing in July, prosecutors will present evidence before Soldani, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Traci Wise appeared in court Tuesday for the prosecution, filing an amended felony complaint in the case. Wise declined comment after the hearing.
Hormel has retained Fresno attorney Michael McKneely. During the hearing, McKneely told Soldani that some of his client’s medical needs were not being met in jail. McKneely did not elaborate but mentioned that Hormel had bariatric surgery years ago. Soldani said he would not rule on the medical issue Tuesday, noting that the jail staff was not present to speak on the issue. Soldani suggested McKneely write a letter about the defendant’s health issues to the appropriate authorities.
After the hearing, McKneely said he couldn’t discuss the allegations against his client, calling it “an unfortunate situation for everyone involved.” He added that Hormel “looks forward to being able to discuss these issues in court.”
“It’s a tough situation. You have a young woman making allegations. Some are substantiated, and some aren’t. That’s what it boils down to, really,” McKneely said.
Hormel has pleaded not guilty to one count of child molestation of a person under age 16 and three counts of rape. McKneely said prosecutors added three counts of unlawful sexual contact with a child age 14 or older in the amended complaint filed Tuesday.
Hormel was fired from the Chowchilla Police Department after his February arrest. He had been working as a school resource officer since 2013 in the Chowchilla Elementary School District. School officials have said the allegations against Hormel do not involve any of their students and that the alleged incidents didn’t happen on a school campus.
If convicted, Hormel would face up to 36 years in state prison, District Attorney David Linn said. The allegations involve a girl over the age of 14, according to prosecutors.
Hormel remains in custody at Madera County Jail.
|Chowchilla News Day
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