Elderly Ogden man accused of child sex abuse dies

Sunday , August 24, 2014 - 9:02 AM

Standard-Examiner staff

PROVO — Orin Searle, an 88-year-old Ogden man accused of child sex abuse, died Friday at the Utah Valley Regional Hospital.

Searle was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first degree felony, in May 2013. In November, he was found incompetent to stand trial at 2nd District Court in Ogden.

Searle was accused of abusing the same minor on multiple occasions in 2009 and 2012, court records show. Other alleged victims also told the Standard-Examiner he committed similar abuse as far back as the 1970s.

Much of Searle's November competency hearing centered around whether or not he was too inhibited by old age to face trial. Multiple witnesses testified at the hearing saying Searle was exaggerating his frailty in an effort to sway the court.

Two psychologists who had examined Searle presented the court with opposite conclusions about his competency. The expert who found Searle incompetent used a more reliable methodology in his examination, Judge Noel Hyde said in his November ruling. Hyde also ruled Searle was unable to "comprehend and appreciate" the charges filed against him.

Searle was housed at the Utah State Hospital this summer as doctors tried to determine whether it was possible to restore his competency and send him back to trial. Citing Searle's lack of cooperation with those doctors, Hyde ordered earlier this month that Searle remain hospitalized until at least late October.

“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 at the time.

A reader alerted the Standard-Examiner to Searle’s death late Saturday. An online obituary listed at www.lindquistmortuary.com confirms he died Friday. 

The cause of Searle's death wasn't immediately clear Saturday night. More details will be reported as they become available.

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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