POMEROY — The jury was seated and the first witness took the stand on Tuesday in the case against Larry Tucker.
The jury of nine women and three men, plus two alternates, was seated at 12:25 p.m. on Tuesday, ending jury selection which began on Monday.
Following a lunch break, the jury was taken on the jury view of the Middleport Jail and select locations at the Meigs County Courthouse as requested by the prosecution.
Prosecutor Angela Canepa and Defense Attorney Kirk McVay then gave opening statements.
Canepa told the jurors the case she plans to present, including details of the witnesses and the charges against Tucker.
Tucker, who was a corrections officer at the Middleport Jail and a probation officer for Meigs County Common Pleas Court, was charged in two separate indictments with 31 felony charges and one misdemeanor charge.
Charges in the initial indictment 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.
The second indictment was for two counts of kidnapping, first-degree felonies, along with fourth-degree felony charges of gross sexual imposition and attempted sexual battery.
Canepa explained the charges, breaking down the elements of each offense which must be proven by the prosecution. She also defined the difference between sexual conduct and sexual contact as part of the charges against Tucker.
“This case is as much about abuse of authority as sexual acts,” said Canepa. “Instead of helping these women he was helping himself to them.”
The charge of sexual battery, as charged, relates to the victim of the crime being incarcerated or supervised by Tucker at the time of the offense.
As previously reported, Tucker is accused of sexually assaulting or attempting to sexually assault 12 different inmates and/or probationers while working as a corrections officer at the Middleport Jail and as a Meigs County Common Pleas Court probation officer. The incidents are alleged to have occurred between January 2011 and November 2017.
In addition to calling the victims of the crimes as witnesses, Canepa said she plans to call other women who witnessed the actions or had themselves been subjected to inappropriate comments. Multiple law enforcement officials are also expected to take the stand in the case.
In his opening statement, McVay told the jurors to think of the charges as paint by number pictures. Each number is an element of an offense and if all the elements are proven then the picture is complete. But, said McVay, if the elements are not all proven beyond a reasonable doubt and there are “white spots” remaining in the picture then the verdict must be not guilty.
McVay explained that in this case there are 32 different pictures which must all be completed in order for guilty verdicts on all of the charges.
In this case, explained McVay there will be no DNA evidence or cell phone records, and that it comes down to credibility, truthfulness, character and trustworthiness.
The day concluded with the first witness taking the stand for approximately two hours of testimony.
The woman, who was housed in the Middleport Jail at two separate times in 2017, stated that she and Tucker engaged in consensual sexual acts on one occasion during her second time at the jail.
Tucker was a corrections officer during her time at the jail.
She explained, during the testimony, that in the jail they spend 24 hours a day in the cell, so she had offered to help with folding laundry and other items to get out of the cell. She also asked if Tucker could print some activity pages or coloring sheets for the women to have something to do. It was then that she alleged Tucker asked what she was willing to do for it.
She went into details of the alleged acts which she said took place in the supply closet at the jail.
The jury was sent home for the evening at 6:15 p.m., following the first of the witness, with additional witnesses expected to be called beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
Editor’s Note: The Daily Sentinel will not publish the names of the victims in this case.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.