Serial groper pleads guilty
A Sonoma man, charged in multiple groping incidents, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one felony count and four misdemeanor counts and faces seven years in state prison.
Samuel Johnson Lyons, 37, of Sonoma, pleaded guilty to one felony count of lewd and lascivious acts on a child who was 14-years-old, and four misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, committed on five separate victims over approximately a one-year period.
Between September 2011 and August 2012, Lyons preyed upon four unsuspecting women and one teenage girl, with his attacks spanning an area from Petaluma to Sonoma. In each circumstance, the women were caught off guard while they were walking or standing in public locations when Lyons suddenly and unexpectedly grabbed at their breasts or buttocks.
Descriptions given by his most recent victims helped investigators identify him and take him into custody. During the investigation, Lyons admitted to all of the crimes, providing details of each attack.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch said the nature of the charges and circumstances will require Lyons to register as a sex offender for life.
Lyons was arrested in August after he groped a 21-year-old woman in the Sonoma Safeway parking lot. The victim was able to take a photo of Lyons’ license plate as he drove away in a Honda.
Police tracked the plate to a residence in the 800 block of Petaluma Avenue and arrested him seconds after he arrived home.
Lyons has been free on $200,000 bail and will remain free until sentencing.
Ravitch said Lyons will be sentenced in Department 9 on Jan. 14, 2013, in front of Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite.