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

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Deputy public defender Chris Garcia outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
As pandemic wanes, SF public defender hopes clients will get ‘their day in court’

Like other attorneys in San Francisco, Deputy Public Defender Chris Garcia has… Continue reading

Hyphen hosts a group show at Space Gallery in San Francisco in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Albert Law/Pork Belly Studio)
What’s in a name? Asian American magazine fights to keep its identity

An investor-backed media group laid claim to the moniker of SF’s long-running Hyphen magazine, sparking a conversation about writing over community history

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over ‘poverty tows’ heats up

‘What can we do to ensure the vehicle stays in the hands of the owner?’

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Revelers at Madrone Art Bar in the early hours of June 15, 2021 (Courtesy Power Quevedo).
No social distancing at Motown-themed dance party

‘I don’t care how anyone feels, I just want to dance!’

Most Read