Aged shopkeepsentenced to jail for molestation

An 88-year-old Menlo Park antique storeowner, who admitted to groping a 14-year-old female customer, was given a 120-day jail sentence Thursday despite his attorney’s pleas that jail time “could kill” him.

Bela Joseph Demeter, owner of Demeter Antique Store on Oak Grove Avenue, was arrested in July 2006 after he was caught attempting to grope and kiss a young-looking Menlo Park undercover officer.

Police planned the sting after a teenage girl filed a complaint with police that Demeter cornered her, put his tongue in her mouth and grabbed her breast.

In April, Demeter agreed to a plea deal on one felony charge of child molestation on the condition that his sentence is served in county jail instead of state prison. Demeter’s attorney, George Eshoo, sought probation Wednesday, claiming that jail time would jeopardize Demeter’s health.

“The time he already spent in jail — which was 42 days or so — almost killed him,” he said. “Another 30 or 40 days could literally kill him.”

The judge’s ruling, however, allows Demeter to apply for the sheriff’s work program, which is an alternative to incarceration and requires daily community service.

Eshoo said Demeter needs counseling rather than jail time.

“It’s a sad situation. He lives alone and he is by himself most of the time,” Eshoo said.

Demeter is out of custody on $250,000 bail and was ordered to report to county jail Sept. 8 if the county sheriff’s work program denies his application. He was also ordered to enter a sex offender program.

bfoley@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Speaker of the Parliament of Mongolia Gombojav Zandanshatar said his country and San Francisco face similar challenges on issues including COVID recovery and climate change.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Mongolian leaders meet with tech, film leaders on city tour

‘I really want San Franciscans to meet the new Mongolian generation’

Most Read