Defendant in obscene phone call case pleads not guilty

A Skagit County man accused of making nearly two dozen obscene calls to women in the San Juan Islands beginning mid-April will stand trial in early August.

Eric N. Lawson, 35, pleaded not guilty in San Juan County Superior Court last week to 21 counts of telephone harassment, a gross misdemeanor. Lawson, who was arrested at his Burlington home June 4 by Skagit County authorities, was in custody at San Juan County Sheriff's Department headquarters in Friday Harbor as of late Monday, according to chief deputy criminal prosecutor Charlie Silverman.

A trial date is slated for Aug. 6. Lawson's court-ordered conditions of release include posting a $2,000 bond or $750 cash, said Silverman, who noted that the Lawson's criminal history includes prior misdemeanor and felony convictions.

Although alleged misdemeanor offenses normally are prosecuted in district court, Silverman said the case against Lawson has been transferred to superior court, typically reserved for felonies, because several of the alleged victims are district court employees.

According to San Juan County Sheriff Rob Nou, the Sheriff's department has fielded more than 20 complaints about sexually explicit phone calls since mid-April. The majority of the calls came in the middle of the night and were made by a man who addressed his victims by name. Those calls came from a restricted or private number, Nou said.

Lawson was apprehended by Skagit County authorities based on a $5,000 arrest warrant issued in San Juan County District early last week.



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