POMEROY — A hearing was held Monday regarding the admissibility of an interview conducted before a now former corrections and probation officer was arrested for sexual battery involving an inmate he supervised.
Larry Tucker, 56, of Pomeroy, appeared in Meigs County Common Pleas Court alongside his attorney Kirk McVay for a motion to suppress hearing on what was originally scheduled to be his jury trial date.
Tucker, who was a corrections officer at the Middleport Jail and a probation officer and bailiff for Meigs County Common Pleas Court, is charged in a 28-count indictment for crimes alleged against 11 victims.
Charges include: six counts of Sexual Battery, third-degree felonies; six counts of Kidnapping, first-degree felonies; five counts of Gross Sexual Imposition, fourth-degree felonies; five counts of Attempted Sexual Battery, fourth-degree felonies; four counts of Attempted Compelling Prostitution, fourth-degree felonies; one count of Theft in Office, a fifth-degree felony; one count of Soliciting, a third-degree misdemeanor.
Prior to the hearing beginning, Special Prosecutor Angela Canepa told the court of a proposed plea offer to the defendant which was rejected.
Canepa explained that under the proposed plea agreement, Tucker would have pleaded guilty to four third degree felony counts of sexual battery, two fourth degree felonies and some misdemeanors with a recommendation for an eight year prison sentence. Additionally, the state would not have opposed judicial release after five years. Canepa added that the offer would not be available after Monday’s hearing.
McVay stated that he had discussed the offer with Tucker who decided to reject the offer from Canepa.
The hearing then proceeded with the motion to suppress.
Special Agent Jonathan Jenkins from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Special Investigation Unit was called as a witness at the hearing, as was Meigs County Prosecutor James K. Stanley.
Jenkins recalled the events of Nov. 15 when he first interviewed Tucker regarding allegations against him.
Tucker was not in custody at the time of the interview and appeared without an attorney.
Jenkins said he had Tucker called to come to the sheriff’s office where the two met in the upstairs interview room.
Before going to the room, according to testimony, Tucker asked Jenkins if he needed to bring anyone with him to which Jenkins said “I don’t think so” and Tucker replied “me either.”
McVay argued that Tucker repeatedly mentioned having an attorney present, although Jenkins said he felt Tucker was trying to decide if he wanted an attorney present and that Tucker never asked to wait to be questioned with an attorney present.
At one point during the questioning by Jenkins, Tucker reportedly attempted to “phone a friend,” but Jenkins said Tucker never stated the friend was an attorney. Given that he thought Tucker was calling a friend, Jenkins asked that he hold off on the call until after the interview.
Later in the interview, Tucker reportedly admitted to an allegation involving a female victim.
Jenkins testified that, toward the end of the interview, Tucker made threats to harm himself rather than go to jail regarding the case, later backtracking from that statement.
Jenkins said he took Tucker’s statement about harming himself seriously, and at the end of the interview, took Tucker to Major Scott Trussell’s office to talk further about the threat of suicide.
While leaving Tucker in Trussell’s office, Jenkins stated he went outside to call Prosecutor James K. Stanley regarding the interview. Speaking with Stanley, the decision was made to file a charge of sexual battery.
Stanley, while testifying, confirmed that he spoke with Jenkins regarding the charge, and that given the interview and the threat of self-harm, the decision was made to file the charge. Stanley stated that it was the hope that if in custody Tucker would be evaluated regarding the suicide threat. Tucker made an appearance in county court the same day the charge was filed and was released on his own recognizance, not receiving an evaluation.
A decision on the motion will be issued at a later time by Judge Linton Lewis.
A jury trial in the case is now scheduled for March 6, 2019.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.