Hearing set in rape, lewd conduct case

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SANDPOINT — A preliminary hearing is set in the case of a Sandpoint man accused of sexually abusing a girl over a 10-year-period.

Dustin Oneal Walden is charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16 and statutory rape. He is being held at the Bonner County Jail in lieu of $500,000, court records indicate.

Walden, 37, is accused of molesting the girl from 2003 to 2013, when she was between the ages of 3-13 years old. The alleged victim, now 17, told Sandpoint Police that Walden had “conditioned” her over the years by making her watch homemade pornography and engaging in sexual activity, a probable cause affidavit said.

The teen disclosed the abuse earlier this month, leading to the issuance of a nationwide warrant for his arrest.

Walden’s defense counsel, Sandpoint attorney Daniel Rodriquez, said in court documents that his client surrendered to authorities and is cooperating with the investigation.

Rodriguez is also working to see the case resolved through settlement negotiations before the preliminary hearing.

“Given the extremely sensitive nature of the evidence offered in support of the charges and the potentially detrimental effect of testifying at a preliminary hearing, both for the alleged victim and for family members, it would be in everyone’s best interest to resolve this matter prior to any testimony being taken,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez also filed a motion to seal the aforementioned probable cause affidavit.

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Oct. 18 in Bonner County Magistrate Court. The hearing will determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant a trial in 1st District Court.

Walden was prosecuted for lewd conduct in Boundary County in 1998, but the charge was reduced to misdemeanor battery as the case neared trial, according to the Idaho Supreme Court Data Repository.

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