Grand jury indicts two for alleged sex crimes

By Sarah Hawley -

POMEROY — A Meigs County grand jury has indicted two men on charges of importuning and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.

James M. Morger, 29, of Loveland (near Cincinnati) and Michael B. Smith, 22, of Coolville, were both indicted on Wednesday in separate cases on charges of importuning and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, fifth-degree felonies.

Morger was in Meigs County Common Pleas on Thursday afternoon, but as he had not had the indictment for 24 hours he is being brought back to court on Friday afternoon for arraignment. He stated that his attorney from Warren County is to be in the area to meet with him on Friday as well.

Smith has been free on bond since appearing in county court after initially being arrested in his case. A warrant was issued for his arrest on the indictment according to Prosecutor James K. Stanley.

While the cases against the two are not connected, the allegations against both men have been similar.

Morger was arrested in mid-January in Middleport after allegedly driving there from the Cincinnati area to meet an 14-year-old girl to engage in sex. The disseminating charge relates to Morger allegedly sending a picture of his genitalia to a 14-year old female, while the importuning charge falls under the classification as law enforcement posing as the 14 year old whom Morger allegedly thought he was soliciting for sex.

Likewise, Smith was arrested in Jan. 6 outside a residence where he was allegedly going to meet at 13-year-old in order to engage in sex.

The Family Violence Unit, School Resource Division along with help from the Meigs County Children’s Services, began the investigation after learning that Smith had allegedly been communicating with the 13-year-old via social media.

Deputies reportedly discovered that Smith had allegedly sent pictures of his genitalia, as well as solicited the 13 year old on several occasions.

Morger remains held on a $100,000 bond as he awaits arraignment on Friday. Morger is also being held on a warrant from Warren County on a probation violation which was filed on Jan. 18.

Morger previously pleaded guilty in Warren County to possession of marijuana, attempted illegal manufacture of drugs, and child endangering. According to a report from the Warren County Prosecutor following the case, while executing a search warrant to investigate charges of dissemination indecent material, the Clearcreek Township Police Department discovered that Morger was manufacturing hash oil from marijuana. Morger was sentenced to a total of three years in prison.

According to reports in the Dayton Daily News at the time Morger pleaded guilty in the case, charges of possession of criminal tools, disseminating material harmful to juveniles, trafficking in marijuana and possession of drugs were dismissed.

According to the article, the case against Morger began during an investigation into an allegation of sexual abuse between a boy under the age of 16, and girl under 13, who met at school in Springboro, according to police. The boy was ultimately sentenced to detention on a rape charge.

After pulling data from the girl’s phone, Clearcreek Twp. Police Sgt. Larry Cornett found evidence that the girl had been approached via text message and other digital messaging services “by unknown subjects requesting nude pictures and sexually explicit conversations. The victim sent nude and sexually explicit photographs electronically to the unknown subjects,” Cornett said in a search warrant affidavit. An FBI agent subpoenaed a phone number that led to Morger, according to the affidavit.

Morger was sentenced in April 2015 to serve three years in prison, with an agreement to judicial release after one year. Judicial release was granted in May 2016, with Morger subsequently placed on community control according to court documents.

By Sarah Hawley

Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews

Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews