Former Sebastopol mayor pleads not guilty to child sexual assault charges

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, May 7, 2021

Sebastopol police arrested former Sebastopol mayor Robert Jacob on suspicion of child sexual assault crimes Saturday, April 10, 2021, and he was then taken to the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility, according to an April 10 press release from the Sebastopol Police Department. (Photo illustration based on photo courtesy Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office)

Trigger warning: This article contains details of sexual assault that may be disturbing to readers and to sexual assault survivors.

Former Sebastopol mayor Robert Jacob plead not guilty to charges of 11 felonies related to child sexual assault at a hearing at the Sonoma County Superior Court on Thursday, May 6, according to Brian Staebell, chief deputy district attorney and media spokesperson of the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.

The former cannabis businessman entered the plea through a representative who also said Jacob denies all allegations, which include sexual penetration with a child under 16 years-old, per online court records.

His next court date is June 8 at 9 a.m. under Criminal Supervising Judge Christopher M. Honigsberg to set a date for a preliminary hearing. The online record of Thursday’s hearing logged a waiver of Jacob’s personal appearance in court, however, and he remains on pretrial release from custody.

The hearing was broadcast in audio only to the public over the court’s YouTube livestream. Staebell said those in attendance Thursday morning were Robert Jacob himself, his attorney Chris Andrian and Deputy District Attorney Ashley Hendon, as well as Judge Dana Beernink Simonds.

Online court records for April 23 list without further explanation “Stipulation & Order” regarding the “discovery of RCC interview.”

According to Staebell, the Redwood Children’s Center is an agency where minors can be interviewed by forensic specialists. The county website said, “To reduce the number of interviews with professionals involved in the investigation, sessions are recorded for law enforcement, legal and social service professionals to review.”

According to the American Bar Association, discovery “is the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they’ll present at trial. Discovery enables the parties to know before the trial begins what evidence may be presented. … It is to be used at trial or in preparation for trial.” Presumably, the defense is requesting copies or transcripts of any interviews of alleged victims that may have been conducted by RCC.

Andrian of Andrian, Gallenson & Gaskell Criminal Defense and Litigation was not available for comment as of 3:45 p.m. on May 6.

This article was produced by SoCoNews. See more news at soconews.org