Richard ___ was placed on intensive supervised probation last summer after pleading guilty in a Cochise County courtroom to felony sexual abuse of a teenaged boy who lived in Richard’s neighborhood. It was the latest in a string of sexual misconduct with children the now 85-year-old has engaged in dating back to the 1950s, according to court records.
But Richard has been in the county jail since June 9 on a no-bail order at the request of his probation officer who alleges Richard recently committed three violations of probation. His next court date is a June 29 review hearing on a petition to revoke probation.
One alleged probation violation involves Richard ’s whereabouts being unknown on June 3 after he left his residence in Sierra Vista without the knowledge or preapproval of Bit’s supervision team. He is also accused of failing to abide by his approved weekly schedule back in April and driving to a Walmart earlier this month without approval of his team.
A petition to revoke probation typically comes with the strong likelihood of imprisonment for the underlying conviction. In Richard ’s case, that could result in a 2.5-year prison term.
But deciding what to do with Richard after his conviction last year was not easy for Judge Timothy Dickerson and probation officials due to the defendant’s age, medical condition, and obvious problems with impulse control.
And it is problem facing courts across Arizona, particularly in rural areas like Cochise County with very limited options for treatment and non-existent options for supervised residential placements which need to be more than 1,000 feet from a school or park.
Some elderly sex offender defendants in Arizona who have been sentenced to the Arizona Department of Corrections are transferred to a contractor who provides in-custody care under certain criteria. Another option has been to commit a defendant to the Arizona State Hospital.
Richard could also be reinstated to probation at the judge’s discretion. But what to do will not be made any easier for Dickerson given that Richard either will not or cannot abide by probation orders imposed by the judge and probation department to protect the community.