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Ohio Guard officer pleads not guilty to sex crimes

MARYSVILLE, Ohio (AP) – The lawyer for a National Guard major indicted on charges he sexually abused three children, including two of his own, cited the man’s 17-year military career and two combat tours in arguing Thursday for lighter bail conditions.

The 40-year-old officer from Marysville appeared on video from jail for his arraignment charges of rape, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition. He pleaded not guilty and Union County Magistrate Donald Jillisky set his bond at $500,000 with movement, curfew and reporting restrictions.

The jail’s website indicated the man was still incarcerated Thursday. The Associated Press isn’t naming the officer in order to protect the identities of his children.

A grand jury in central Ohio indicted the man earlier this month, alleging he committed the offenses between 2006 and 2012.

The 17-count indictment says he’s the father of two of the children, who are all girls. The third child was identified Thursday as a child of the man’s wife from a previous marriage. Prosecutors said the children ranged in age from 2 to 8.

The man’s 36-year-old spouse, wearing a tight bun and a summer floral dress, pleaded not guilty to an obstructing justice charge and was released on her own recognizance but barred from contact with the three victims. Defense attorney Jason Despetorich told Jillisky the woman is the only caretaker of five children still living in the home and is working closely with Children’s Services regarding their care. The woman declined to speak to reporters.

George Leach, an attorney for the husband, told Jillisky his client has a strong military record and noted he was not under military arrest when he returned from an overseas deployment to face charges, though he did have to travel with an escort. Leach said the man volunteered to his commanding officer that he’d been indicted.

“He’s twice served combat for our country, and he is the only breadwinner for his family,” Leach said.

According to the Ohio National Guard, the defendant arrived in Kuwait at the end of June for a one-year deployment. He was working as a medical operations officer with the 371st Sustainment Brigade.

In a 2008 story in a military publication, the man spoke about his large family and wanting to adopt a girl to protect her from sexual assault.

Terry Hord, Union County chief assistant prosecutor, argued in favor of the costly bond. He told Jillisky that if released the man runs the risk of fleeing in the face of life in prison, committing other sexually related crimes or trying to intimidate other potential victims, including a fourth child who has been taken out of state.

“I touch on all of that simply to say there are certain risk factors involved with this defendant. There are certainly risks,” Hord said.

Prosecutors have said two of the alleged victims are in foster care and the third is living with her father, who is not the National Guard major. Jillisky said he considered the fact that at least two of the alleged victims are under protective orders from other agencies in setting the defendant’s bond as he did.

Up to 11 children lived with the man and his wife in Marysville, a city of 22,000 residents about 30 miles northwest of Columbus, according to police records.

Reports show Marysville Police helped with the removal of 11 children from the house in August and then, three days later, authorities were contacted by the county’s Children Protective Services division alleging someone living at the same address had been sexually abused.

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