RIVERSIDE – A probationer who allegedly tried to intercept a 13- year-old leaving her Riverside school engaged the youngster for ”sexually motivated” reasons and should be held accountable, a prosecutor said today. The man’s attorney said no crime occurred.
”Why is he cat-calling and whistling at this young girl?” Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Amerlie Romney said during her closing statement in the trial of James Michael Sheehy. ”His actions are sexually- motivated. We all know what those whistles mean.”
Sheehy, 52, could face a year in jail if convicted of annoying a minor, a misdemeanor offense, stemming from his alleged Dec. 11 contact with the girl identified in court documents as Jane Doe.
According to authorities, the child and Sheehy were the only two people that afternoon walking in the area of Lincoln and Abraham avenues. The girl had just left Gage Junior High School and was heading to a corner where her mother was expected to retrieve her when the defendant allegedly jumped out of some bushes and called her ”cute,” then trailed her, according to trial testimony.
Romney asked jurors how they would feel if they witnessed a ”50-year- old man whistling at a 13-year-old girl outside the courthouse and telling her to ‘come here’ repeatedly.”
”Is there anything normal or natural about that? No.,” the prosecutor said.
Deputy Public Defender Kim Bhatia argued there was no evidence that her client was even the right man, based on the fact that his was the only picture the victim ever saw before making an identification.
”There’s no indication at all that a police investigation was done,” Bhatia said. ”All they had was a description. And I’ll submit that James’ appearance is similar to the description that Jane Doe gave. But he wasn’t wearing the clothes she described the day of his arrest (Dec. 24). What did he do with them? He’s homeless. It’s not like he has a wardrobe.”
According to the attorney, even if Sheehy was the perpetrator, it’s a stretch to believe he did anything more than simply try to ask the girl a question.
”There was no testimony that he was chasing her,” Bhatia said. ”He whistled a couple of times and said, ‘Hey, come here.’ The act doesn’t fit the crime.”
At the time of his arrest, Sheehy was on felony probation for a drug possession conviction last year, according to court records, which showed multiple drug-related convictions over the past decade, along with convictions for shoplifting and theft.
He’s being held on $25,000 bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.