Man who fled to Philippines faces judge |

Man who fled to Philippines faces judge

Christina Proctor

A South Lake Tahoe man who fled to the Philippines, after he was convicted of the 1986 statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl, finally faces a felony failure to appear charge.

Sean O’Brien, El Dorado County chief assistant district attorney, said Donald Alan Diehl, 35, faces a maximum of four years and four months in a California state prison for his original conviction and subsequent disappearance.

Diehl was picked up by FBI agents and an investigator from the district attorney’s office when he stepped off a plane at San Francisco International Airport April 18. Authorities believe Diehl lived in the Philippines since he failed to return after being given a two-day pass.

Diehl appeared Friday before Judge Suzanne Kingsbury. Kingsbury was the deputy district attorney who originally prosecuted Diehl. Kingsbury assigned the case to Judge Terrence Finney, who presided over Diehl’s conviction and gave him the infamous two-day pass. Diehl will be arraigned on the new charge of failure to appear April 30.

Diehl pleaded guilty to one count of oral copulation and one count of sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old South Lake Tahoe girl in the summer of 1986. According to court records, Diehl approached the victim in the early morning hours at the intersection of Pioneer Trail and U.S. Highway 50. He talked her into going back to his apartment where the sexual acts took place. Diehl was originally charged with sexual assault but that was later reduced to statutory rape.

At Diehl’s Sept. 19, 1986 sentencing hearing Diehl’s defense attorney Richard Meyer requested the two-day pass so Diehl could get his affairs in order and break the news to his elderly mother in Sacramento. Kingsbury opposed the pass on the grounds that Diehl had ties to the Philippines and that he was facing state prison.

“That might not be all bad if – although I’m not encouraging absconding,” Finney said.

Probation officer Norman Miller agreed with Kingsbury’s assessment saying Diehl was a flight risk.

Finney admonished Diehl that if he didn’t report to the South Lake Tahoe jail at 5 p.m. on Sept. 22 he would make a hobby out of finding him.

“I mean that with all sincerity,” Finney told Diehl. “If you don’t come back you will be on my special projects list.”

Diehl was suppose to turn himself in for a review, or 90-day diagnostic, by the California Department of Corrections. After the review the department of corrections would have made a recommendation for sentencing. O’Brien said Diehl would have been facing less time if he had complied with the order.

Diehl’s involvement in a civil lawsuit in the Philippines brought him to the attention of the FBI about two years ago. The U.S. government started a request for Diehl’s extradition or deportation, but it wasn’t until 1997 when the U.S. government established an extradition treaty with the Philippines that he was recovered.

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