A teenage girl testified Tuesday that a longtime family friend who worked as a mechanic for the city of Long Beach repeatedly molested her, starting when she was about 5 years old.
After hearing the girl speak, Long Beach Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Lowenthal ruled there was enough evidence to hold 35-year-old Paul Skelly to face a full trial on charges that could carry a maximum sentence of 33 years to life in prison.
“The court found the witness to be extremely credible and brave,” Lowenthal said before setting Skelly’s bail at $1.6 million because of the “egregiousness” of the charges.
Police said Skelly worked for the city of Long Beach for 13 years before his arrest and suspension without pay from his job as a garage attendant in the city’s fleet services bureau this March. As of April 25, Skelly was “no longer employed” by Long Beach, city spokesman Johnathan Garcia said in an email.
Skelly was high school friends with the parents of the girl he’s accused of sexually abusing, according to her testimony Tuesday.
The Long Beach Post is not naming her because it generally does not identify potential victims of sexual abuse unless they choose to use their names publicly.
The girl said Skelly would sometimes sleep at her family’s home, and she first remembers being abused by him at 5 years old when she woke up with his hands on her.
The girl said she remembered four other specific times that Skelly groped her or touched her inappropriately before the abuse stopped when she was 8 or 9 years old.
Police said the girl—now in her mid-teens—recently reported the abuse to them, sparking the investigation. Police originally asked for help finding any other potential victims, but prosecutors have only filed charges related to the one girl.
On March 22, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office filed one count each of oral copulation or sexual penetration with child 10 years old or younger, lewd act upon a child under age 14 and continuous sexual abuse.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Skelly’s attorney, Marcus Musante, repeatedly quizzed the girl on specific details about her accusations and pointed out that some of the events she was recalling happened up to 10 years ago.
The girl said she was confident in her memory—explaining she knew how old she was when the abuse began because she’d gotten the pajamas she was wearing for Christmas that year.
Musante also asked her if Skelly ever appeared to be aroused or to be getting sexual gratification from the alleged abuse, something Musante said was a requirement for some of the charges pending against him.
“There’s no evidence that the defendant went anywhere right after to gratify himself,” Musante argued to the judge. He called the charges “overboard.”
Lowenthal, however, declined to dismiss them, ruling the evidence was strong enough to be put to the test in front of a jury.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information about Skelly no longer being employed by Long Beach.
Support our journalism.
Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.