COLUMBUS, OHIO — An Ohio National Guard member suspected of sexually abusing three adopted daughters and his stepdaughter also is accused of abruptly sending a fourth adopted daughter out of state and threatening the children in the family with a similar fate to keep them from talking about what they knew, according to court documents.
The 41-year-old Marysville man, who told a military publication years ago that he wanted to adopt a girl from Africa to protect her from rape, was originally charged last year. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Union County court on an updated indictment with 35 counts, including rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, intimidation and tampering with evidence.
Court documents indicate the girls were under 13 at the time, with one as young as 5.
Messages seeking comment were left for the man’s attorney E. Darren McNeal, whose legal assistant said McNeal won’t discuss the case.
The defendant and his wife, who is accused of intimidation and obstruction but not abuse, entered not-guilty pleas to the initial charges against them. The Associated Press isn’t naming them to protect the children’s identities.
Prosecutors allege in court documents that the man touched the girls in inappropriate, sexual ways at different times and forced two of them to perform sex acts on him.
Prosecutors say the girls reported abuse to a different adoptive daughter who shared that information with relatives and was sent away in July 2012. The man and his wife picked up the girl from a volunteering shift and put her on a flight to Idaho against her will, without a chance to get her belongings, according to the limited details described in court documents.
At a park before church the following Sunday, the couple gathered the remaining children — nine of them, include the four accusers — and told them that there were false statements being made about the man and that any child who discussed those matters “would go away” like the other girl, prosecutors said in court documents.
An updated indictment filed this summer against the man’s wife includes 13 intimidation-related charges and an evidence-tampering count related to the girl who was sent out of state. The 37-year-old woman also is charged with a single count of obstructing justice; prosecutors say she falsely told police that the children denied the sexual assault allegations and that she intimidated one of the girls so she would write a letter to that effect.
The wife’s attorney, Jason Despetorich, also said he isn’t commenting on the case while it is pending.
Terry Hord, the Union County chief assistant prosecuting attorney handling the case, said he couldn’t provide an update on the status of the children or where they live, but he said none now lives with the father who is charged.
The guardsman remains a major with an Ohio National Guard unit out of Springfield and works one weekend per month, according to the organization’s community relations office.