LOS GATOS -- A Santa Clara County forensic toxicologist has been charged with 18 counts of child molestation, forcing prosecutors to retest samples in 26 criminal cases he handled.
Steven Joseph Joyner, 44, of Los Gatos, was recently arrested after Child Protective Services and police were contacted by officials at the child's school when concerns were raised. Most of the counts allege he committed lewd and lascivious acts upon the same child over the course of a decade.
According to a Los Gatos/Monte Sereno police report, Joyner told investigators that he had made inappropriate contact with the child but it was unintentional. It also states that Joyner repeatedly said he has no explanation of why the child would make the allegations.
Asked if he had any child pornography, "he admitted to having gone to websites depicting photos of what appeared to be 'exploited children,'" according to the report.
Because of his job with Santa Clara County, the state Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case.
Joyner's duties involved testing blood for the presence of alcohol or drugs, according to James Gibbons-Shapiro of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. Joyner would testify in court as to his findings.
Because of the charges, Gibbons-Shapiro said Joyner's work needs to be redone, and he will not be asked to take the stand in any future cases.
"We're not going to call him as a witness for any cases going forward and for all cases that are pending that haven't been filed," Gibbons-Shapiro said.
Most of the retesting has been completed.
The retesting was crucial because Joyner would not be able to testify to the results without the possibility of being cross-examined and have his credibility questioned because of the acts he is accused of committing.
He may even have to plead the fifth, and all his testimony would be stricken, Gibbons-Shapiro said.
"We're not going to bring in a witness, transported in from jail, when we can have a better witness if we retest," he said.
Gibbons-Shapiro said they also sent notice of the charges to defense attorneys in prior cases in which Joyner testified.
He said that he didn't believe any verdicts would be compromised because it is unlikely that the charges could be connected to the outcome of any particular case, and that while it wasn't required of them to tell defense attorneys about the new developments, "it is something we think is the right and fair thing to do."
Joyner also served as a merit badge counselor in the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, which permanently barred him from participating in the program when the allegations came to light.
Margaret Caldwell, a director with the Scout's Silicon Valley chapter, said all parents have been notified and advised to report any inappropriate encounters with Joyner.
"We have not heard anything," she said. "As far as we know, none of this activity happened in the scouting program."
Joyner's attorney Ron Rayes said he couldn't offer much comment on Thursday.
"My client pleaded not guilty, and at this point in time I can say we are vigorously defending the allegations," he said.
Joyner remains in custody. His next court date is March 27.
Robert Salonga contributed to this report. Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.