Sex offender's bond revoked after year of freedom
FT. LAUDERDALE, Florida (CNN) -- A former Florida teacher, who for a year avoided serving a 43-year sentence for sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy, was handcuffed and ordered back into state custody Friday.
Aaron Mohanlal lowered his head as Broward Circuit Judge Marc Gold reversed a decision he made last summer granting the convicted sex offender a $610,000 bond while his conviction was appealed.
The bond was supposed to be secured with properties owned by Mohanlal's relatives. But evidence presented by prosecutors Friday showed there were no liens placed on the properties and they were not worth a fraction of the amount suggested by defense attorneys.
In April 2007, Mohanlal was convicted of 13 counts, including child abuse, molestation and lewd battery for forcing the boy, one of his students, to have sex in a classroom supply closet. Occasionally, the teacher would take the boy home during school hours for sex. He also purchased a cell phone for the teen and created nicknames for their genitalia to help keep phone sex a secret. The abuse went on for nearly two years.
Gold said on Friday that he weighed "the severity" of the case in deciding to revoke Mohanlal's bond.
"I can't believe it, I can't believe it, finally some justice," the victim's father said after the ruling as his voice cracked with emotion.
Gold granted the bond in July 2007. It allowed Mohanlal to remain free until his case was tried on appeal -- a process that could take years. Gold had agreed to the bond on the condition that Mohanlal's relatives have liens placed on three family properties as collateral. That meant that if Mohanlal left town, or did not show up for court, the family would -- in Gold's words -- "lose everything."
But records indicate the family had little to lose.Don't Miss
The total value of the bond properties was not a fraction of $610,000, said prosecutor Ellen St. Laurent.
Best Bail Bonds of Broward did not place liens on the properties and at least one of the homes is in foreclosure and for sale, according to evidence presented Friday. Mohanlal's defense attorney told Gold in 2007 that one collateral property -- a home in Sunrise, Florida, owned by Mohanlal's father -- was worth more than $250,000, according to St. Laurent. In fact, there are several mortgages on that home, which has no equity, said St. Laurent, who specializes in surety law.
St. Laurent told Gold that he had granted a "bogus" bond. "The basis under which you granted the bond was absolute misinformation," she said.
St. Laurent argued that because Mohanlal's relatives' properties are worth very little, there was a favorable chance the sex offender would leave town to escape his 43-year sentence.
Defense Attorney Diane Cuddihy argued that Mohanlal showed up to court when he was asked to during the original trial. She also argued that Mohanlal came to Friday's hearing from Port St. Lucie, where he lives.
She said Gold had no jurisdictional discretion to rule in the case. The case is in Florida's appellate courts, which should rule on whether the bond is legitimate, she said.
Gold disagreed. He blamed the defense for giving him "misinformation" at the 2007 bond hearing.
"There's no question that the information given to me was incorrect," Gold said. "Given the severity of the sentencing, I'm revoking this bond."