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Mammoth school board member charged in sex abuse case found dead

January 25, 2012 | 12:50 pm

Mammoth lakes
A prominent Mammoth Lakes school board member charged with sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old Santa Barbara girl has been found dead by his wife, just days before he was to appear in court.

Dr. Andrew Bourne, a surgeon in the resort town and one of two men charged in the sex case, was found “unresponsive” in the Hot Creek fish hatchery area near his Mammoth Lakes home, according to the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Bourne was a surgeon in the resort city and had served on the school board until his arrest, when he resigned his post.

Bourne, 46, and businessman Joseph Walker, 48, were arrested Jan. 4 and charged with sexual misconduct with the teenager in a case that stretched from the eastern Sierra Nevada resort to the Santa Barbara coast. Both pleaded not guilty.

Bourne was free on $750,000 bail and had been outfitted with a GPS device to track his movements. That tracking device was used Tuesday to find his body, according to the Mammoth Times.

Authorities said there was no evidence of foul play, but did not provide further details.

“I believe these charges led to his suicide,” said Ron Bamieh, the surgeon’s attorney. “The charge of this crime is so life-altering. Dr. Bourne could not deal with the fact that everyone assumed he was guilty.”

Bamieh wouldn't disclose the cause of death. Jennifer Hansen, a spokeswoman for the Mono County Sheriff’s Depart, said a suicide note wasn't found.

Santa Barbara prosecutors said the defendants had a two-year relationship with the teenager. Clandestine meetings were held in Santa Barbara and in Mammoth Lakes, which the girl visited more than 100 times, the Santa Barbara News Press reported, citing court documents.

Bourne lived with his wife and two children in the High Sierra resort.


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-- Steve Marble

Photo: Mammoth Lakes village. A prominent Mammoth Lakes school board member charged with sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl was found dead Tuesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times