POMEROY — After pleading guilty to three felony charges of gross sexual imposition last month, Edward J. Holter was sentenced to a five-year term of community control on Wednesday.
Holter, 56, of Pomeroy, appeared alongside his attorney Jeff Finley of Gallipolis for the sentencing hearing. Special Prosecutor Angela R. Canepa, who is employed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, represented the state at the hearing before Judge Dean Evans, who was appointed to hear the case.
Holter pleaded guilty in early March to three counts of gross sexual imposition, each a fourth-degree felony, as charged in a bill of information filed by Canepa.
Evans sentenced Holter in accordance with the plea agreement which called for a five-year term of community control, as well as the requirement to register as a Tier I sex offender.
The three fourth-degree felony offenses which Holter pleaded guilty to involved three separate victims over an eight-year time frame.
In a statement read by Canepa, one of those victims recalled how Holter was the father of her friend, a person whose house she spent the night and whom her family had dinner with. The victim’s statement went on to say that Holter had “everything lined up perfectly to take advantage.”
“You broke everything I stood for,” her statement continued, noting that the crime happened just months before she was to graduate high school.
The victim’s statement recalled that during what should have been the best years of her life she had to take time to meet with attorneys, investigators, and many others, as well as taking a polygraph test to prove she was telling the truth. Holter did not take a polygraph regarding the case according to the victim’s statement.
She concluded her statement by saying that it had been a long six years (since the offense happened) but that Holter was finally getting what he deserved. “You are a coward,” she stated.
Holter declined to address the court, with Finley simply asking the court to go along with the plea agreement.
As part of his sentence, Holter must resign from his position with the Meigs County Fair Board and as a bus driver with Eastern Local (he has already retired from this position), as well as being prohibited from employing females under 18 and to not be employed in a position which would put him in close contact with minor females.
At the plea hearing in March, Canepa detailed the alleged offenses against Holter with regard to three victims who were employed on his farm over an eight-year time frame.
She stated that with the first victim Holter would make comments and sexually harass her; attempt to move her sports bras to see her breasts; ride on the four-wheeler with her, put his arms around her with his hands up her shirt or down her pants. With the second victim, Canepa said Holter hosed her down, tried to get her to take her clothes off; grabbed her breasts and butt and tried to get her to lay in the hay with him. The third victim reported that Holter would smack her butt and make sexual comments; put his hand down her pants and panties and rub her, according to Canepa.
The victims were employed at different times beginning in 2005, with the last one quitting her job following the incident in 2012.
While the parents of the victim (who had submitted her statement to the court) were not permitted to address the court during Wednesday’s hearing, they provided copies of their written victim impact statements to the media following the sentencing.
“Ed Holter preyed on his daughters’ friends for years,” stated the mother of the victim in her statement. “He would invite them to his home. He would employ them on his farm. He would flirt. He would joke. He was their bus driver. He would lure them into a false sense of security and trust, then he would strike.” She added that he used the friendships as a way to keep it quiet.
“Ed Holter is a true predator. Ed Holter is a monster,” she stated.
“I have spent the last six years doing everything in my power to see that Ed Holter was held accountable for what he did to these girls. And we will truly never know the full impact his actions have had on each of them will we……Ed Holter robbed them all of their potential.”
The mother continued, “Ed Holter may look at this plea bargain as a gift because he knows (as we all know) that his sins are far greater than what he has pleaded to here, but it is also a gift to the girls. They don’t have to tell what happened to them again if they don’t want to. No more attorneys, law enforcement, investigators. No more public scrutiny and whispers. They can finally put what happened to them behind them. They can walk with their heads held high. They are getting justice today. Today, everyone will know they did not lie about what Ed Holter did to them. Today, everyone will know Ed Holter is a sexual predator,” stated the mother.
The father of the victim described the emotions which have been involved since learning of the crime — Disappointment, Disbelief, Shock, Rage, Revenge, Sadness and Faith.
“My teen daughter, sexually assaulted at her part-time high school job by you; just couldn’t be. This was a dad’s worst nightmare. I initially acted like too many others have, I didn’t want to believe it,” stated the victim’s father. “None of your victims can be, in life, what they would have been without your negative impact.”
In addition to the criminal case, a civil action against Holter and Holter Holstein Farms has been filed in Meigs County Common Pleas Court by one of the victims.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.