Judge: Sex abuse defendant not cooperating at state hospital

Tuesday , August 12, 2014 - 5:10 PM

OGDEN -- An elderly sex abuse defendant has reportedly been uncooperative with doctors at the Utah State Hospital who have the authority to send him back to trial by declaring him competent. 

Orin Searle, 88, was not present for Tuesday’s competency hearing in 2nd District Court, a court date scheduled after a 90-day stay at the state hospital for treatment and evaluation. Searle was charged with two counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child, a first-degree felony, in May 2013. He was ruled incompetent to stand trial in November, angering his accusers, who said at the time he was putting on a false act of frailty and old age decline. 

The court was set to re-evaluate Searle’s competency based upon information from doctors at the state hospital. Judge Noel Hyde said Tuesday, however, that a report from the facility suggested Searle was not getting along with those doctors. He ordered that Searle remain hospitalized until at least Oct. 28, the new date set aside for his competency hearing.

Searle needs to cooperate so that doctors can accurately determine whether it’s possible to restore his competency, according to Hyde. Currently, he said, the court’s only option is to continue hospitalizing the defendant.

“There's no conclusion and therefore the presumption of incompetence remains. ... There's no basis for any other action to be taken by the court,” Hyde said.

Searle is accused of repeatedly abusing the same child in 2009 and 2012, according to court documents. Others came forward and told the Standard-Examiner he committed abuse as far back as the 1970s. Lorinda Mayfield, now 43, told the Standard-Examiner last year that she was abused by Searle as an 8-year-old. Mayfield has attended multiple hearings as a show of support to the alleged victim identified in Searle’s existing charges. 

Members of the group Bikers Against Childhood Abuse have also attended court throughout Searle’s case. Several of them attended Tuesday’s hearing, but afterward declined to comment.

James Retallick, Searle’s public defender, told Hyde his client generally gets along with the other residents and much of the staff at the state hospital.

“But when the doctors come, they say he refuses to get along with the doctors,” Rettalick said. “I will attempt to contact Mr. Searle, your honor, and express the importance ... of his cooperation with the treatment provided down there.”

Another report from the hospital will be requested in advance of October’s competency hearing.

“At some point, depending on what kind of review we get, we're going to have to choose how to proceed,” said Weber County Deputy Attorney Chris Shaw in court. “Clearly, there's some evidence the defendant hasn’t cooperated.”

Contact reporter Ben Lockhart at 801-625-4221 or blockhart@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Lockhart. Like his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/blockhartSE.

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