Homer District Court Judge Margaret Murphy set bail and conditions of release on Wednesday for Stephen R. Boyle, 43, a Homer man charged with six counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Boyle is the deputy fire chief for Kachemak Emergency Services.
At his hearing yesterday, Kenai Peninsula Borough Human Resources manager Story Brown said that because of the seriousness of the charges Boyle had been placed on administrative leave. Brown asked that as a condition of his release, Boyle not be on the premises of KES fire stations. Murphy granted that request.
“We are cooperating with the local police department to do their work and complete their investigation,” Paul Ostrander, chief of staff for Mayor Mike Navarre, said last Friday. “We have to see what the investigation uncovers and what the police work indicates.”
Boyle was arrested on June 16 at his Homer home and appeared in court on Friday for his arraignment. Judge Murphy told Boyle that a plea could not be made at his initial appearance.
In a press release, Homer Police said on May 31 they received a complaint from woman in her 20s that over a period of six years and when she was between the ages of 9 and 15 she had been sexually assaulted by Boyle. The woman now lives in Florida, but grew up in Homer. Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said the woman contacted a county sheriff in Florida and that office contacted Homer Police. Robl said the case remains under investigation
According to a criminal complaint by Sgt. Lary Kuhns, the woman claimed that from about 1997 to 2003 and on six occasions she was sexually assaulted at Boyle’s home and other locations. The woman is related to Boyle, but to protect her privacy, the Homer News is not providing details regarding her exact age or her relationship to Boyle.
In his complaint, Kuhns wrote that he contacted the sheriff’s office in Florida and asked for help in serving a search warrant to monitor and record a conversation between the woman and Boyle. In the complaint, Kuhns said Boyle made incriminating statements to the woman and apologized to her.
At his arraignment on Friday, Boyle asked for a court appointed attorney, but Murphy later ruled that his higher income made him ineligible for a public defender. Boyle is now represented by Kenai attorney Andy Pevehouse. Murphy held bail hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Initially, Pevehouse had asked that a Homer man be appointed his third-party custodian. Assistant District Attorney Nick Torres objected, saying the man was related to Boyle and might be a witness in the case. Pevehouse then suggested the man’s wife, but when the hearing was continued to Wednesday the woman said her employer would not allow her to be a custodian.
On Wednesday Pevehouse presented two alternate custodians, a man who is a volunteer with KES and his wife. Torres did not object to the custodians. They have a farm in Fritz Creek and Boyle will stay in the couple’s home on the farm. Pevehouse noted that Boyle has ties to the community and should not be considered a flight risk.
Murphy set conditions of release that Boyle be in 24-hour sight or sound of one of the custodians, that he not consume alcohol, that he check in weekly with his lawyer, that he not leave Alaska and that he attend all court appearances. Boyle also is not to have unsupervised contact with minor children, including Boyle’s children. Murphy set bail at a $100,000 unsecured performance bond and a $5,000 appearance bond.
If convicted, Boyle faces up to a $500,000 fine and up to 99 years in prison on each count.
Boyle’s next court appearance is a preliminary hearing at 3:30 p.m. July 21 at the Homer Courthouse. Murphy tolled or suspended court rules requiring a speedy trial and a grand jury indictment. For a felony charge to stand, a grand jury must indict within 20 days if the defendant is out of custody. That rule is sometimes suspended to avoid a grand jury hearing and allow defense attorneys time to investigate the case.
According to the Kachemak Emergency Services website, Boyle has worked in fire and emergency services since 1991, when he was a volunteer firefighter with the Homer Volunteer Fire Department. He eventually was certified as a fire officer 1 and emergency medical technician III. He graduated with an associate of arts degree in fire administration from Kachemak Bay Campus and rose in the ranks from EMS lieutenant to fire captain. He worked full-time with HVFD from 2000 to 2009 and was hired as deputy chief with KES in 2009.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.