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Some Sex Charges Dismissed After Witness's Prison Suicide

4 Mar 2005

By Michelle Roberts

Summary: Michael Lee Boyles, Jim Lyman and two other men faced several sodomy and sex abuse charges related to boys in state care.

Multnomah County prosecutors on Thursday asked a judge to dismiss sex abuse charges against four men, including a former youth authority worker and a state foster home provider, because their alleged victim killed himself.

Aaron Munoz, 21, hanged himself in his Oregon State Penitentiary cell on Jan. 28. He was to be the star witness against Michael Lee Boyles, 49, a former Oregon juvenile probation officer, and Jim Lyman, 67, a former state-paid foster care provider. The men faced dozens of sodomy and sex abuse charges related to boys in their care.

In light of Munoz's suicide, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Michael Marcus agreed Thursday to dismiss 20 of the 91 felony counts against Boyles, and each of the 22 felony counts against Lyman.

"The reason these charges are being dismissed is because the state is unable to proceed without the testimony of the alleged victim who committed suicide," Marcus said after signing the dismissal order. "I can't help but be concerned that the behavior alleged is what contributed to the suicide. . . . That possibility troubles me greatly."

Munoz testified before a grand jury last year about abuse he said he suffered at the hands of Boyles, Lyman and two other men who frequented Lyman's foster home. Officials had contended that Boyles placed young boys in Lyman's home so they would be available for sexual abuse.

Boyles remains charged with 71 counts involving sex crimes with minors he supervised as a probation officer for the Oregon Youth Authority. Five young men, including Munoz, were named as victims in the original indictment against Boyles.

Boyles is being held on bail of more than $5.5 million.

All twelve felony counts against Lyman's domestic partner, Fidelfino Llena Garcia, 50, and Steven Paul Lien, 48, another man allegedly affiliated with Lyman's foster home, also were dismissed.

Two new charges filed

Lyman was arraigned Thursday on two new misdemeanor counts involving another alleged victim. Lyman pleaded not guilty Thursday to one count of third-degree sex abuse and one count of furnishing obscene materials to a minor. His bail was reduced on Thursday and he was expected to be freed from jail several hours later.

Munoz had been scheduled to be released from the penitentiary in the first week of February after serving two years for an assault conviction. His aunt, Kelly Ann Mills of Portland, said Munoz told her in a visit hours before he killed himself that he didn't want to leave prison with a reputation as a snitch and a homosexual.

Boyles started work as a juvenile probation officer for the state in 1993. He was fired by the Oregon Youth Authority in March 2004, more than a month after his arrest. He supervised youth offenders in the Portland area.

Mills said her nephew first came into contact with Boyles in early 1996, when Munoz was 13 and faced charges of shoplifting and breaking into a state-owned car. She had raised him since he was 3 weeks old.

An affidavit filed by a state police detective in February 2004 said investigators had learned that co-workers joked about Boyles' habit of taking on the cases of clean-cut boys ages 13 to 17. Authorities have seized hundreds of pornographic images from Boyles involving boys as young as 8.

Boyles' trial is scheduled to begin June 27.

© 2005 Oregonian Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Used with permission of The Oregonian.

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