Prosecutors dropped their case Thursday against a longtime Sonoma Valley school custodian accused of child molestation, citing a lack of evidence.
Richard Piskulic, 53, of Vallejo, a custodian at Sassarini Elementary School, had been charged with touching a boy's genitals in a school bathroom.
He was arrested Oct. 5 and faced a maximum eight years in prison if convicted.
But after further investigation, authorities realized the allegation was unsubstantiated and decided not to pursue the case, said Piskulic's lawyer, Joe Stogner.
"The reason for their thinking is that nothing happened," Stogner said after the single felony count of lewd conduct with a child was dropped. "Richard was drawn into a vortex of a false allegation."
Supporters gathered around him outside court. Piskulic, who had been free on bail, declined to talk but a close friend said he knew the custodian would be exonerated.
"It's been tough on him," said Harry Akre of Sonoma. "He can start piecing his life back together."
Stogner said Piskulic, who had worked for the Sonoma Valley school district for more than 30 years, was placed on administrative leave but plans to return soon to work. "He's a very valued employee," Stogner said. "They are looking forward to having him back."
School district officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment Thursday.
Sonma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said prosecutors continue to examine the case and may bring new charges in the future. The statute of limitations is one year.
"At this time, there is insufficient evidence to file a criminal case. However we are still looking at the matter and continuing our investigation," Ravitch said. "We don't want to charge unless we're confident in the evidence supporting it."
The allegations surfaced Oct. 4 that Piskulic was involved in sexual misconduct with a male student. The student told his mother, who reported it to police.
After interviewing the boy and his mother, Piskulic was arrested early the next day at his house.
The district sent letters home to parents, notifying them of the arrest and offering tips on discussing
the allegations with children.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Bay Suicide Prevention 24-hour hotline: 855-587-6373
NAMI Sonoma County warmline: 707-527-6655
Sonoma County Psychiatric Emergency Services: 707-576-8181
For information on Sonoma County support groups, call 707-527-6655 or go to namisonomacounty.org