A Santa Clara County forensic toxicologist faces multiple counts of child molestation, which has forced the district attorney to retest more than two dozen blood samples in cases that he processed.
Santa Clara County Forensic Toxicologist Charged With Child Molestation
By Tony Kovaleski and David Paredes
Santa Clara County toxicologist Steven Joyner is charged with 18 counts of child molestation. Cases he worked on are now being retested. Tony Kovaleski reports. This story first aired March 5, 2013 at 11 p.m. (Published Thursday, Mar 7, 2013)
Updated at 3:03 PM PDT on Thursday, Mar 7, 2013
The Attorney General's Office, which is prosecuting the case because the defendant works for the county, charged Steven Joseph Joyner of Los Gatos, with 18 counts in early February.
Police reports indicate that the issue came up at the girl's school, which led to the investigation.
The allegations are that Joyner molested a young girl as far back as 2003. Most of the counts are formally charged as lewd and lascivious acts. The girl is now a teenager.
Joyner is in custody without bail. His next court date is March 27. If convicted of all counts, Joyner faces a maximum of 15 years to life in prison.
Joyner's attorney, Ron Rayes, said his client is "devastated" by the charges and plans to fight them through the legal system.
In Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police reports obtained by NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit, Joyner acknowledged touching the girl, but said it was "unintentional."
As a result of his arrest, officers also confiscated eight rifles and two handguns found at his home, reports state.
As a forensic toxicologist, Joyner analyzed blood samples, among other things, for DUI and narcotics cases used by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. In addition to the blood work, he would also often be called to testify in court on behalf of the prosecution.
Outside of work, Joyner was a merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts said they are in the process of informing all of the parents in the troop where he volunteered. Margaret Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council, emailed NBC Bay Area to say that as soon as they learned of Joyner's arrest, they "immediately revoked his registration as an adult leader in all areas of the Scouting program and added him to the list of ineligible volunteers."
She added: "The abuse of anyone, especially a child, is intolerable." Read email with entire Boy Scouts of America statement (pdf).
In response to NBC Bay Area's request on Tuesday, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney James Gibbons-Shapiro said the crime lab is retesting 26 cases of blood samples that Joyner had worked on - these are cases which had not yet been filed or were pending in court.
"We want to make sure that a DUI case or a narcotics case going forward that we are still able to prosecute that case," Gibbons-Shapiro said. "So for each one of those pending cases we are having the blood sample retested by a different toxicologist at the crime laboratory."
For the pending cases, Gibbons-Shapiro said the DA's office is not taking to trial any case that Joyner had worked on until that sample has been retested by someone else.
Finally, Gibbons-Shapiro noted that his office has notified all the defense attorneys who conducted trials that involved Joyner's work to let them know about his situation. So far, 13 of those cases where he testified have been uncovered, Gibbons-Shapiro said, and the "review is continuing."
He added that he does not believe the "revelation of this information calls into question the facts that were at issue in those trials...we are making the disclosures nonetheless because it seems only right and fair to allow the defense attorneys in those cases to conduct their own evaluation of the situation."
"It's horrible when a child is victimized and it's horrible whether they are victimized by someone who is a toxicologist, " Gibbons-Shapiro said.