Crime

Lenny Jones sentenced to prison for sexually abusing children

Lenny Jones, 65, at his arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court in April 2015.
Lenny Jones, 65, at his arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court in April 2015. Joe Johnston

Lenny Jones will soon be moved from San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he’s been for more than a year, to a yet-to-be-disclosed state prison to begin a 14-year-and-eight-month sentence after his final court appearance Tuesday.

The former Arroyo Grande Citizen of the Year will be nearly 80 years old before he is eligible for release.

Jones, 65, sexually abused three girls, who were then 6 and 12 years old, and forced a 3-year-old boy to pose for explicit photographs at a birthday party held at Jones’ Arroyo Grande home in March 2015.

He was arrested after a police search of his house, and he had remained in jail custody facing 12 counts. At an April 5 pretrial hearing, Jones pleaded no contest to four felony counts of lewd acts with a child under 14, one felony count of using a minor to engage in sex acts, and one misdemeanor charge of molesting or annoying a child.

In exchange for his plea, felony charges of forced oral copulation, kidnapping, using a minor for sex acts and false imprisonment, and a misdemeanor charge of destroying evidence were dismissed.

The plea bargain also allowed Jones to avoid a trial, where the victims may have been called to testify. Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham said at the time that avoiding that scenario was in the best interest of justice.

Despite having been accused of molestation in Arroyo Grande in 1995 — a case that was later dismissed with completion of counseling — the real estate agent was named the city’s 2014 Citizen of the Year. Local police were unaware of his past when the honor was given, Arroyo Grande police Chief Steve Annibali previously told The Tribune.

On March 10, Jones entered into a confidential settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought by the families of two of Jones’ victims, who alleged he tried to conceal property and assets following his arrest so that his victims could not win money from him in any future lawsuit resulting from a criminal conviction.

Terms of that settlement are under seal by a court order and are not public record.

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