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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 3:52 am | Fair 47º


Former Lompoc Police Volunteer Pleads Guilty to 17 Child-Sex Counts

Anthony 'Tony' Durham to receive 45-year sentence for sexual molestation of 2 young children

Anthony “Tony” Durham Sr., 67, pleaded guilty Thursday to 17 counts related to sexual molestation of young children. Under a plea agreement, he will be sentenced to 45 years in state prison, meaning he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Click to view larger
Anthony “Tony” Durham Sr., 67, pleaded guilty Thursday to 17 counts related to sexual molestation of young children. Under a plea agreement, he will be sentenced to 45 years in state prison, meaning he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Saying “guilty” 17 times, a former Lompoc police volunteer and community leader accepted a plea deal on Thursday for multiple child-molestation charges expected to send him to prison for the rest of his life.

Anthony “Tony” Durham Sr., 67, entered his pleas in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Lompoc before Judge Rogelio Flores. 

As part of the plea agreement, Durham will be sentenced Feb. 23 to spend at least 45 years in state prison before becoming eligible for parole. 

Durham, who was represented by attorney Chris Ames, would be 112 years old before becoming eligible for parole.

Because the charges involve more than one victim and substantial sexual misconduct, Durham is not eligible for probation.

He also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. 

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley said the defendant faced more than 200 years in state prison if convicted on all 17 charges.

“We had two main goals ... that he never get out of prison and that the victims in this case did not have to testify,” Foley said. “We wanted to avoid having them being revictimized by the court system. As you can tell from the charges, they’re very young.”

“We believe that this plea will achieve both those ends,” Foley added.

Family members and several members of the Lompoc Police Department were in the courtroom when Durham pleaded guilty. 

The guilty pleas came unusually early in the court proceedings — during the arraignment phase and before any preliminary hearing or full trial.

“It’s certainly not common,” Foley said of the agreement.

Durham, a retired California Highway Patrol officer who was active in the community and served a short stint on the Lompoc City Council, was arrested in late September, with the felony complaint saying the crimes occurred between 2012 and 2016 and involving two victims.

He was charged with 14 counts of sexual contact with a child 10 years of age or younger, including oral copulation and sexual penetration.

He also was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts involving the two victims. 

The allegations shocked the Lompoc Valley community, where Durham was widely respected for his service, including leading the Every Fifteen Minutes program at local high schools.

“Both the Police Department and the victims’ family were in agreement with this resolution,” Foley said. “It was important to gain closure on this case. These crimes occurred to not only the victims, not only their families, but really did a lot of damage to the whole community because of Mr. Durham’s standing in the community.”

“So this today we hope will give a closure for a lot of people. Mr. Durham had admitted his guilt. He’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison because of what he did.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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