Accused Lakeside molester to undergo evaluation - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Accused Lakeside molester to undergo psychiatric evaluation

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EL CAJON (CNS) - A registered sex offender accused of molesting two Lakeside boys will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to see if he is mentally competent to stand trial, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Joseph William Cantorna, 55, is charged with four felony counts of committing a lewd act with a minor.

Defense attorney Thomas Carnessale told a judge Thursday that he wanted his client evaluated to see if the defendant understood the charges against him and could assist in his own defense, according to Deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso.

A hearing is scheduled Nov. 10 for a judge to rule on Cantorna's mental competency.

Residents of the Cherry Road neighborhood where the alleged molestations took place Sept. 12 said Cantorna lived for several years in a nearby group home, but they were never informed of his background.

Deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso said the alleged victims, ages 7 and 9, were riding their bicycles when one went to get a drink.

Cantorna allegedly approached the younger boy and began to touch his bicycle and then rubbed his back.

The 9-year-old saw what was happening and returned to his friend, at which time the defendant turned his attention to the older boy and began to rub his back, buttocks and penis, Grasso alleged.

When the man asked if they would like to see his private parts, they rode away, according to the prosecutor.

Cantorna, who is also charged with two misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting children, has a lengthy criminal record, she said.

Cantorna is the first in San Diego to be prosecuted under the provisions of the recently enacted Chelsea's Law, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Because the prosecution alleges there are multiple victims, the charges carry a maximum punishment of 25 years to life in prison each. The same charges and allegations prior to Chelsea's Law would have brought a maximum of 15 years to life in prison.

The law is named for Poway High School senior Chelsea King, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by sex offender John Albert Gardner III on Feb. 25 near Rancho Bernardo Community Park.

The measure, which toughens penalties for sex crimes and heightens official monitoring of sex offenders, was signed earlier this month by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and took effect immediately.


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