Renowned U.S. geneticist to stand trial on child sex

A Superior Court judge has ruled that a renowned University of Southern California geneticist accused of molesting the daughter of a colleague must face trial.

William French Anderson, known as the father of gene therapy, has been charged with one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child under age 14 and three counts of committing a lewd act upon a child.

A world-class martial arts expert, the 68-year-old Anderson is accused of molesting the girl between 1997 and 2001 when she took tae kwon do lessons at his San Marino home. The girl was 10 in 1997. Two sex abuse counts were dropped in May because they fell outside the six-year statute of limitations.

Anderson, who has been free on bond, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Superior Court Judge Teri Schwartz concluded a preliminary hearing Thursday by ruling that the prosecution had enough evidence to proceed with a trial. The judge scheduled the trial to begin Dec. 7.

A telephone call Friday to Anderson's defense attorney, Barry Tarlow, was not immediately returned. Anderson, director of the Gene Therapies Laboratories at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, has been placed on administrative leave.

Anderson led a research team in 1990 that performed the first approved human gene therapy trial. He has won numerous awards for his scientific work and was Time magazine's runner-up for Man of the Year in 1995.

Prosecutors in Maryland dismissed a separate child molestation case last month against Anderson because key evidence against him was inadmissible under state law, AP reports.

A. A.