George Hirzel

George Hirzel

A Santa Maria man must stand trial on dozens of charges related to alleged inappropriate sexual contact with an underage girl over several years, a Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

George Hirzel, 47, is facing more than 70 counts in a criminal complaint filed in the spring.

Law enforcement officers say the crimes involved one victim, reportedly while she was a teenager, with incidents occurring between 2014 and 2019. 

Defendants in child-molestation cases often face multiple charges, but it’s unusual for a case to involve this many criminal violations.

The 74 charges in this case include continuous sexual abuse of a child; possession of child pornography; 24 counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child; 13 counts of sexual intercourse with a minor by someone 21 years or older; 17 counts of oral copulation; and 18 counts of unlawful sexual interaction with a minor. 

Deputy District Attorney Scott Donahue is leading the prosecution team. Hirzel is represented by attorney Paul Greco. 

The defendant remains in the custody of the Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $500,000.

On Tuesday, at the end of Hirzel’s preliminary hearing, Judge John McGregor ordered the defendant to return to court Dec. 19 for arraignment on the charges.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.