MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Municipal Court Judge Paul Spurgeon filed a request on Monday with Eric Brown, Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, for the assignment of a new presiding judge to oversee two cases which were scheduled for sentencing next week.
Retired Judge Stuart K. Miller was originally assigned to cases involving Donald P. Bailey, 20, Centerburg, and Samuel A. Thatcher, 19, Centerburg. Both men were charged with, and entered a guilty plea, to contributing to the unruliness/delinquency of a minor. Plea bargains were accepted by Miller and pre-sentence investigations were ordered. Objections to the plea agreements were filed by Quinn M. Schmeige and Mellissia Fuhrmann, both of the Ohio Justice League and attorneys for the victim.
Documents filed by Schmeige and Fuhrmann, allege that on two separate dates in December 2009, Thatcher text messaged a 14-year-old girl, picked her up “from her home in the middle of the night, drove to his grandparents home and had unlawful sexual contact with the victim in his vehicle.”
Schmeige and Fuhrmann argue Thatcher’s age at the time of the alleged incidents make the acts a fourth-degree felony under the Ohio Revised Code. In addition, the two attorneys argue the allegations should also result in a fifth-degree felony count of importuning.
The objection further states Thatcher should also be considered for charges of complicity as he “further perpetrated crimes against the victim by giving his cell phone, vehicle and the use of his grandparents’ driveway to his friend (Donald) Bailey, to aid him in engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with the minor victim.”
The objection also requests Bailey be charged with four-degree felony for unlawful sexual contact and a fifth-degree felony for importuning.
“The victim also opposes the proposed plea agreement due to the appearance of propriety because of the familial relationship between the defendant (Thatcher) and his father, an elected official,” the document stated.
Miller filed for recusal from both cases last week, stating “I was not fully aware of the facts in the cases until I received the balances of discovery and the pre-sentence reports late in the week of Sept. 26. Upon review of the aforementioned materials I cannot philosophically continue as the assigned judge.”
Ted Hart, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said it was unknown when a new judge would be assigned to the cases. Sentencing has been indefinitely continued at this time. Brenda S. Leikala was appointed to serve as special prosecuting attorney through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. A request for comment from her on the cases was not returned at press time.
A call to Rebecca Gooch, attorney for Bailey, was unreturned at press time. Attempts to contact Miller have been unsuccessful.
Ronald Koltak, attorney for Thatcher declined to comment.