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89-Year-Old Enters Plea on Molestation Charges

‘Adopted grandpa’ volunteered at two elementary schools in Reston and one in Herndon

Kenneth Bayer, an 89-year-old Reston resident and former volunteer at three area elementary schools, was convicted Wednesday, Dec. 14 on three felony counts of molesting a 13-year-old girl.

Bayer, of Rosedown Drive, entered an Alford plea in Fairfax County Circuit Court on two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of taking indecent liberties with a child. A defendant who enters an Alford plea admits that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict, without admitting guilt. The court may then impose a sentence as if the defendant had been convicted of the crime.

Bayer was arrested March 3 after the girl reported the incidents to her parents, who then contacted police.

WHEN BAYER’S WIFE died in March of 2000, the girl’s family involved Bayer with their family as an “adopted grandpa,” according to testimony by the girl’s mother at the preliminary hearing Aug. 12. “He was in our house as Santa as early as 1999.”

For five years, the family invited Bayer to family vacations, holiday festivities, children’s performances and sports games and family meals, said the victim’s mother.

On numerous occasions, Bayer had been left alone with the family’s three children, including the 13-year-old daughter, she said. By 2004, according to the girl’s mother, Bayer was at the house “at least once a week.”

While being questioned by police detectives, Bayer admitted he touched the girl inappropriately, a police detective testified at his preliminary hearing.

DURING BAYER’S HEARING last week, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Ben’Ary requested that Bayer’s bond be revoked, but the request was denied by Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush.

Bayer remains free on bond and is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

Bayer entered the Alford plea with the understanding that Ben’Ary would request a jail sentence only up to 11 months. At the sentencing hearing in February, Roush can accept or reject the term. If she chooses a longer sentence, Bayer has the option to withdraw his plea.

Bayer’s attorney, Steven David Stone, suggested that Bayer had entered the early stages of dementia and declining mental health, according to Ben’Ary. But Ben’Ary said Bayer demonstrated his ability to function by volunteering at numerous schools and hospitals and transporting himself.

In the few years leading up to the charges, Bayer volunteered at Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, Hutchison and Dogwood elementary schools as well as the Herndon Free Clinic.

WHILE BAYER’S CHARGES did not relate to any of his volunteer work at the schools, police charged the Dogwood’s principal at the time of two misdemeanor charges of failing to report suspected child abuse by Bayer.

Former Dogwood principal Ricki Harvey was exonerated of the charges last June when a Fairfax judge cleared Harvey of wrongdoing even before her defense attorney presented her side. Harvey, who worked 33 years with Fairfax County Public Schools and had won a principal of the year award in 2004, retired at the end of June.

The victim in Bayer’s case was not a student at Dogwood, nor ever had been.

— Ken Moore contributed to this article.