In the unlikely event that Meg Whitman gets picked to serve on a jury this week, she will be asked to decide the guilt or innocence of an accused child molester.

In a case of inopportune timing, Whitman, the former eBay CEO who is the Republican candidate for governor, had to report for jury duty Monday at the Hall of Justice and Records in Redwood City.

The trial that the Atherton resident is being considered for is a fairly high-profile molestation case that is expected to last about a month, Assistant District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.

Tarquin Craig Thomas, 43, is a British citizen who worked as a software designer for the Barclays investment firm and is suspected of molesting a 9-year-old boy. Thomas had arranged for the boy, then in foster care in Oregon, to be moved to Thomas' San Mateo home and then began adoption proceedings, according to the district attorney's office. Thomas is also accused of molesting two other boys.

Court observers say that considering Whitman's circumstances -- the next month is a critical one for her campaign -- she will probably be excused from the jury pool. She could be required to report again Thursday, but could also be called today and told not to report, a campaign source said.

The judge in the case is Judge Beth Freeman, an appointee of former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. She is a registered Democrat.

Contact Ken McLaughlin at 408-920-5552.