LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) - Police are looking for a 47-year-old man accused of molesting two young girls between 1996 and 1998.
Paul Turley of Dunkirk sat through jury selection for his trial at Niagara County Court Wednesday morning but did not return after a lunch break.
A bench warrant has now been issued for Turley, who had been free on $50,000 bail. Apparently, during jury selection, it was revealed that over the weekend, Turley had tried to friend a prosecution witness on Facebook. As a result, prosecutors sought to have Turley's bail revoked. Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas said she would rule at the end of the day.
After lunch, Turley did not return to court. And though he is being sought, the trial is moving forward without him. Jurors have not been told why the defendant is not present so as to not taint their decision. And the judge has ordered attorneys not to speak to the media about the case.
But before the gag order was issued, Turley's lawyer told a reporter with The Buffalo News that he was able to reach his client around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and said Turley told him that he was in the parking lot of a Tim Horton's and was very frightened.
If convicted of molesting the two young girls 15 years ago, Turley faces 39 years behind bars. Niagara County District Attorney Michael Violante says the trial is moving forward because of what is known as the Parker Warning, an agreement defendants sign when they are arraigned.
It reads: "If you fail to appear without a valid excuse the proceeding may go on without you even including a trial. As a further consequence of your failure to appear, your bail premium and/or collateral may be forfeited."
Reportedly, Turley's wife's place of employment said she did not show up to work.
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