Sonora, California – Tuolumne County Acting District Attorney Eric Hovatter announced today that on January 29, 2021, 70-year-old Eric Richard Eleson was denied release at a parole hearing held via videoconference. This was Eleson’s initial parole suitability hearing.
On October 4, 1994, an eight-year-old girl reported to her father and mother that a family friend – Eric Richard Eleson – had molested her and her six-year-old sister twice the night before. A family friend and computer repairman, Eleson was at their home to fix their computer when he entered their daughters’ room multiple times and lewdly touched each child. Eleson was arrested and denied any wrongdoing. He was charged under the Three Strikes Law with four violations of Penal Code section 288(a), lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 and was alleged to have two prior serious and violent convictions.
Eleson had previously been convicted of Second-Degree Murder in San Mateo County in 1970 and had been sentenced to six-months-to-life in prison. After serving only five years, Eleson was paroled and was subsequently convicted of several misdemeanors, including solicitation of a prostitute. He also sustained multiple parole violations. In 1984, Eleson was convicted of First-Degree Sexual Abuse of a Child and Bail Jumping in Hawaii. Then, in 1994, Eleson was again accused of First-Degree Sexual Abuse of a two-year old child in Oregon when he fled to Tuolumne County. Those charges were pending when he was arrested in Tuolumne County.
A member of the sovereign citizen movement, Eleson waived an attorney to assist him in his case and also waived a jury trial. He was found guilty by the Honorable William G. Polley in three of four counts of lewd and lascivious acts. He was sentenced to 85-years-to-life in prison. While he appealed application of the Three Strikes Law to his case, the California Court of Appeals upheld his conviction and sentence in an unpublished opinion.
Despite the lengthy sentence imposed, Eleson became eligible for Early Elder Parole in 2019 because he was over the age of 60 and had served 25 years of his sentence.
At his hearing on Friday, January 29, 2021, Eleson demonstrated little insight into the causative factors that led to his extensive criminal history and his potential pedophilia. He continues to adhere to his sovereign citizen beliefs and was focused on de-legitimizing the hearing by claiming Deputy District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke was not a licensed attorney in the State of California (she is) and claiming the Deputy Commissioner lacked the right to sit on the hearing because he was not an employee of the State (he is). Eleson had previously refused to speak to a CDCR psychologist for a Comprehensive Risk Assessment, which rated him at a moderate risk of violent reoffending. Eleson took no responsibility for his actions and blamed others for his convictions. He had participated in only minimal self-help programming geared towards being released, rather than gaining insight into his criminality. He also lacked viable parole plans and believed – despite his sex offender status and prior convictions – that it would be safe and appropriate for him to be around children in home and public settings.
The commissioners from the Board of Parole Hearings deliberated for approximately ten minutes and found Eleson was not suitable for parole based on his continued risk to society. The commissioners denied Knox a parole hearing for five years. Eleson will be eligible to petition to advanced his case after three years.
For More Information Contact:
Cassandra Jenecke — Deputy District Attorney
Phone: (209) 588-5450