MERCED — A registered sex offender from Merced pleaded not guilty Wednesday to molesting a 5-year-old family member.
Thomas Earl Mullins, 63, pleaded not guilty in Merced County Superior Court to two felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child, Deputy District Attorney Michael McKinney said.
Visiting Judge David Vander Wall ordered Mullins to return to court Oct.31.
Merced County sheriffs investigators arrested Mullins last Thursday near his home on Stretch Road, Deputy Delray Shelton said.
Sheriff Mark Pazin said the victims family became aware of the alleged abuse after the girl wrote a short story in a diary last month. The sheriff said the victim, who is now 10 years old, eventually told family members that Mullins was doing very bad things to her.
The girl told investigators Mullins inappropriately touched her and exposed himself over the last five years, the Sheriffs Department said in a statement.
Ive always said some people are just wired wrong, Pazin said.
Mullins has a child molestation conviction in Washington state, but details were not available Wednesday.
The Merced County District Attorneys Office was waiting for officials from Washington to send case files. McKinney said the conviction was in 1984 and said Mullins was a registered sex offender. The Sheriffs Department said Mullins earlier case also involved a family member.
They (sex offenders) need constant attention, Pazin said.
Deputies said that when Mullins learned the girl was speaking with authorities, he told other relatives he intended to get into a shootout with deputies and talked about suicide by cop, the sheriff said.
Investigators began following Mullins last week and made a traffic stop on Thursday outside his home where he was arrested without incident.
Mullins is in custody at the Merced County Jail on $350,000 bail.
Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209)385-2482.