Correction: Inmate records at the John Benoit Detention Center in Riverside County, California, used in a previous version of this story incorrectly reported the number of felony charges Lawler faces. The correct number, according to San Mateo County Court records, is 11.
Show jumper Alec Lawler has been released from jail on $140,000 bail after being arrested last week at the Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, California, on a warrant for 11 felony charges related to allegations of soliciting a minor for sexual purposes.
Lawler, 30, of Atherton, California, was arrested Jan. 5, on the second day of the Desert Circuit I show. He faces seven felony charges of sending harmful matter with intent to seduce a minor, two felony charges of contacting a minor for sexual purposes, and two felony charges of possessing child pornography.
Deputies from the Thermal station of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department arrested Lawler just before 10 a.m. Thursday at the horse show facility on a warrant issued by San Mateo County, according to Sergeant Wenndy Brito-Gonzalez, public information officer for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Lawler was booked into the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio on the felony charges, according to jail records, and released from the facility the next day, Jan. 6. The U.S. Equestrian Federation listed him as ineligible to compete on Jan. 6, and the U.S. Center for SafeSport issued a temporary suspension for “allegations of misconduct” on Jan. 11.
Lawler lives and works in San Mateo County, the county that issued his arrest warrant. Alec Lawler Show Jumping is located at the Portola Valley Training Center in Menlo Park, where his name and photo appear on the website with other on-site trainers but with no email or phone number listed. Contact information for Lawler could not be located, and his Instagram and Facebook accounts have been deactivated.
Jenna McAlpin, a criminal records manager for the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, said that a public records request made by the Chronicle would be evaluated to determine if any information could be released about the case.
The seven felony charges for sending harmful matter with intent to seduce a minor each carry a potential sentence of three to five years in state prison. If convicted, Lawler would have a lifetime duty to register as a sex offender. Under California law, a prosecutor can decide whether to bring the charges as misdemeanors or felonies, based on the nature of the allegations.
The charges stem from five incidents that allegedly occurred between May and September 2022, according to court records.
Prior to his Jan. 5 arrest at the show, Lawler was entered in two classes at the winter circuit on Jan. 4, including a 1.20-meter open jumper class and a 1.30-meter open jumper class.
No date has been set for Lawler to appear in court.