Friday, 08 December 2023

Lower Lake man charged with sexual abuse of his niece

LOWER LAKE – Following an investigation, a Lower Lake man has been arrested and charged with several counts of lewd and lascivious acts against a child.

Steven Wayne Mitchell, 59, was taken into custody on Thursday morning, according to a report from Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

On May 2, Mitchell's family members contacted the sheriff’s office to report that he had committed multiple acts of sexual abuse against his 13-year-old niece, according to Bauman.

The acts allegedly had occurred at Mitchell’s home in Lower Lake over a three- to four-week period during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays of 2008, Bauman said.

Bauman reported that Mitchell had already been the subject of another open investigation into alleged sexual misconduct with an 11-year-old Spring Valley girl, which was reported to the sheriff’s office last October.

The victim in that case was the daughter of a one-time girlfriend who reportedly lived with Mitchell for a short time and works for him at his medical marijuana dispensary, “Steve’s Place,” on Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake. Bauman said the incidents alleged in that case occurred during the summer of 2008.

Having ensured the victims in both cases had been removed from Mitchell’s access since reporting the allegations, sheriff’s detectives completed enough followup investigation into both cases to secure a warrant of arrest for Mitchell and search warrants for both his home in Lower Lake and his business in Clearlake, said Bauman.

In addition to Items of evidence located at Mitchell's home and business, deputies seized two firearms and a large amount of ammunition.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Hedstrom signed the warrants on May 20 and on Thursday at about 7:40 a.m., Bauman said. Mitchell was located and arrested at the El Grande Hotel in Clearlake without incident.

He was booked at the Lake County Jail on a felony charge of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14, said Bauman.

Mitchell was released on a $250,000 bond Thursday afternoon. Bauman said Mitchell ultimately will face a total of five felony counts of the same charge as a result of both cases.

Bauman said Mitchell has a prior felony conviction for burglary and receiving stolen property so he will also face charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

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