Ohio’s child marriage law seen as too lenient; some fear girls are being exploited

Published: Thursday, September 07, 2017 @ 1:33 PM

Young teens can marry in Ohio

Judges in Ohio have approved thousands of marriages involving minors since 2000, and there is concern among advocates and other experts that Ohio’s marriage laws are too lenient, setting up young girls for failure and even exploitation, a Dayton Daily News examination found.

READ THE NEWSPAPER’S FULL INVESTIGATION HERE

Ohio law requires brides to be at least 16 and grooms to be at least 18, but exceptions are made for younger, pregnant teens if they have parental consent and juvenile court approval. That effectively means there is no legal minimum age for marriage in Ohio.

Fraidy Reiss, executive director of Unchained At Last, a national non-profit advocating for an end to child marriage, said the state’s marital laws put Ohio in the same company as Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“Shame on Ohio for having 16th century laws still on the books,” she said.

The newspaper examined records obtained from the Ohio Department of Health of marriages between 2000 and 2015. During that span, 4,443 girls age 17 or younger were married, including 59 who were 15 or younger. In virtually all of these cases, the girl married after getting pregnant or after delivery.

Among the marriages the newspaper examined was one involving Tessi Siders, now 29, who married a 48-year-old man after she got pregnant when she was 14. Although the marriage has survived, and they now have three children, most child marriages end in divorce, the newspaper found.

A 2012 national study revealed that 80 percent of child marriages do not last. The newspaper interviewed several judges who admitted being uncomfortable approving marriages they know have little chance of surviving.

Connecticut, New York and Texas each recently adopted laws to increase the minimum marriage age and several other states are considering legislation to do so, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Unchained group.

Ohio is not one of them. Not a single bill has been introduced in the Ohio General Assembly to address the issue.

State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, an attorney who practices juvenile and family law, said some of the cases of young, pregnant teens marrying older men point to problems in Ohio’s laws.

Rezabek said he isn’t committed to changing the law but will evaluate it.

“If you have, God forbid, a 13-, 14- or 15-year-old marrying somebody that is two, three, four times their age, I think that raises some questions as to why the judge or the other court players or the parents of a particular case were not seeking other remedies through the judicial system,” he said.

‘On its last legs’: Why election boards are seeking new voting machines

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 3:23 PM


            Most counties in Ohio, including Butler County, are in need of new voting machines. There is a state bill in the Ohio legislature that would pay for the lowest cost model for every county in Ohio. Pictured are Butler County residents on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, learning about one of the six voting machines vendors were displaying at the Butler County Board of Elections. vendors. The election officials said it could take between $3 million and $6 million to replace its aging equipment. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
            Michael D. Pitman
Most counties in Ohio, including Butler County, are in need of new voting machines. There is a state bill in the Ohio legislature that would pay for the lowest cost model for every county in Ohio. Pictured are Butler County residents on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, learning about one of the six voting machines vendors were displaying at the Butler County Board of Elections. vendors. The election officials said it could take between $3 million and $6 million to replace its aging equipment. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF(Michael D. Pitman)

Voting equipment in many Ohio counties, including Butler County, is becoming obsolete as replacement parts are more difficult to obtain and software continues to age.

State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, said he knows of at least one county board of elections that has used parts from an auto supply store. He said replacing voting machines before the 2020 presidential election is vital to ensure votes are recorded and counted correctly.

“It’s just time to replace them,” he said. “This is the kind of thing that has to be done right.”

RELATED: New voting machines unlikely for Butler County before 2019 (August 2017)

LaRose, who is running for Ohio Secretary of State, said there is “widespread agreement that we need to replace voting machines” among those within the legislature. He introduced Senate Bill 135 last April, which has had one hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.

“It is time for the state’s leaders to step forward and approve a funding plan to replace Ohio’s aging voting technology,” Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted wrote in a Dec. 14, 2017 letter to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

“Any plan must ensure that updated voting systems are implemented in time for the 2019 general election so that elections officials and voters alike are not using new voting equipment for the first time in the 2020 presidential election cycle.”

LaRose will amend his bill to include paying for new voting equipment for every county board of election, including training and maintenance contract costs. He said the bill would require the state to pay 100 percent for a “lowest cost option” — which is yet to be determined — and any costs above that cost would be covered by the county. County governments that have purchased new equipment would be reimbursed, LaRose said.

The state was working to pay for new voting equipment after the 2016 presidential election but was removed from the state budget. It was expected the state would pay between $115 million to $130 million for new machines after the 2016 election.

Butler County has around 1,600 voting machines. Several dozen are unusable, and around 50 need to be repaired after each election, according to the county elections office. An internal memo last year from the county elections office’s database administrator to the two directors said his confidence level with the current system “is decreasing” and the county has upgraded operating systems “at least three times since these machines were made.”

RELATED: What does 2018 hold for the political races of Butler County?

Jocelyn Bucaro, deputy director of the Butler County Board of Elections and president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, said she is “very grateful and supportive” of the help by LaRose and others in the state to secure funding to replace the equipment that’s “on its last legs.”

“Counties are not able to afford the $118 million needed in new equipment,” she said.

Bucaro said she and elections office director Diane Noonan have reached out to the Butler County members of the general assembly, and they have been supportive of the initiative “and will continue to make the case over the next couple of months.”

She’s “cautiously optimistic” the state will provide funding.

“The state has to make choices with limited resources, like the rest of us, and we know that nothing is certain,” Bucaro said. “The need is there, and it’s not going away.”

The elections office attempted to secure funding from the county to pay for new voting machines for the 2018 election, but county leaders did not make the $3 million to $6 million it would take to replace Butler County’s voting machines available.

Butler County Commissioner T.C. Rogers said the county is “good” for the 2018 primary and gubernatorial elections, which features county commission and county auditor races, and three Statehouse races.

“But as far as the (2020) presidential election, we would like to have the new machines by then,” said Rogers, who said Butler County is “in much better shape” than other counties. “But our maintenance agreements cover us for that period. We are being told that the legislature will address this problem before the presidential election. Every election is important (just as) every vote is important, but again we feel our equipment will be able to do the job (at least for 2018).”

Ohio inmate wants to be killed by firing squad

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 3:45 PM
Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 3:45 PM

The execution that didn't happen

Attorneys for a condemned killer whose execution was stopped last year after 25 minutes of unsuccessful needle sticks are once again recommending the firing squad as an alternative.

The execution could also proceed if the state adopts a closely regulated lethal injection process that includes a headpiece to monitor the brain activity of death row inmate Alva Campbell and medicine to revive him if the lethal drugs don’t work, attorneys said in a court filing earlier this month.

Without these measures, Campbell’s execution would involve “a sure or very likely risk of serious harm in the form of severe, needless physical pain and suffering,” Campbell’s federal public defenders said in the Jan. 4 filing.

Campbell, 59, was sentenced to die for fatally shooting an 18-year-old man in a 1997 carjacking.

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows death row inmate Alva Campbell, convicted of fatally shooting Charles Dials of Columbus, Ohio, during a carjacking after Campbell escaped from police custody during a 1997 court appearance in Columbus, Ohio. In a January 2018 court filing, Campbell's attorneys once again recommended a firing squad as an alternative to lethal injection, after the state couldn't find a usable vein during an attempt to execute Campbell on Nov. 15, 2017, that was stopped after 25 minutes of unsuccessful needle sticks.(Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction via AP, File)

The state unsuccessfully tried to execute Campbell on Nov. 15 in the state death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

After the Ohio prisons director stopped the execution, Republican Gov. John Kasich issued a reprieve and rescheduled the execution for June 2019.

RELATED: Unusual death row meal requests

Prison officials said three examinations found usable veins in Campbell’s arms the day of and the day before the execution. But executioners weren’t able to establish successful IV lines when it came time to put Campbell to death.

As a result, using a firing squad for Campbell must be an option, his attorneys argue.

A firing squad wouldn’t cause severe suffering, doesn’t require drugs Campbell might be allergic to or the need to find a vein. It also doesn’t require the involvement of a doctor, the attorneys said in a 533-page filing.

A firing squad “virtually eliminates the unconstitutional lingering death and other severe physical and mental pain and suffering” that Campbell might suffer by injection, the attorneys said.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office wants Campbell’s request tossed out, saying it’s “beyond the borders of common sense.”

“It would seem indisputable that a firing squad produces greater observable effects on the inmate than lethal injection,” Jocelyn Lowe, an assistant attorney general, said in a Thursday filing.

She also called the proposal a “non-starter” since a judge previously said the firing squad is not an execution method recognized under Ohio law.

RELATED: Craigslist killer appeals death sentence

At least two U.S. states allow the firing squad, including Utah and Oklahoma, which permits it if other methods aren’t available.

Campbell’s attorneys argue lethal injection is permissible as long as his heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are continually monitored and drugs and equipment to revive him are on hand.

They say Campbell’s health problems pose additional risks for a successful lethal injection. Campbell uses a walker, relies on an external colostomy bag, requires four breathing treatments a day and may have lung cancer.

During the November execution attempt, executioners provided Campbell a wedge-shaped pillow to help him breathe while he was put to death.

The state isn’t obliged to resuscitate an inmate who’s been administered the state’s three-drug lethal injection system, the state replied.

“Providing medical or resuscitative care would directly contravene the court-ordered death sentence,” Lowe said.

Ohio’s next execution is Feb. 13, when Raymond Tibbets is scheduled to die for killing a man at his Cincinnati home. Tibbetts also received life imprisonment for fatally beating and stabbing the man’s wife during an argument that same day over Tibbetts’ crack cocaine habit.

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Miami Valley area prisoners on Death Row include:

Richard Bays, 52, Greene County, admitted June 1995 for aggravated murder and robbery of a 76-year-old wheelchair-bound Xenia man.

Davel Chinn, 60, Montgomery County, admitted September 1989, for aggravated murder, robbery and kidnapping of Brian Jones from a downtown Dayton parking lot. Chinn’s co-defendant was later murdered in the 1992 Christmas killings, for which Marvallous Matthew Keene was executed.

Timothy Coleman, 48, Clark County, admitted in April 1996 for drug dealing and aggravated murder of Melinda Stevens, who was scheduled to testify against him in a drug case.

Von Davis, 71, Butler County, admitted May 1984 for aggravated murder of his girlfriend, Suzette Butler, outside an American Legionn hall in Hamilton.

Jason Dean, 43, Clark County, admitted September 2005 on robbery and attempted escape charges and convicted of aggravated murder and other charges in June 2006. He was convicted in the 2005 murder of youth counselor, Titus Arnold.

Antonio Franklin, 39, Montgomery County, admitted September 1998 on arson, robbery and murder charges. He killed his uncle and grandparents and torched their home and then fled to Nashville, Tenn.

Terry Froman, 44, Warren County, admitted June 2017 on aggravated murder and kidnapping charges. He shot his ex-girlfriend, Kim Thomas, 34, in the back of his SUV on Interstate-75 near Middletown in September 2014.

Larry Gapen, 69, Montgomery County, admitted July 2001 on escape, robbery, abduction and aggravated murder charges. He admitted to police that he used a wood-splitting maul to smash in the faces of his ex-wife, Martha Madewell; her ex-husband Nathan Marshall; and her daughter Jesica Young.

Donald Ketterer, 68, Butler County, admitted February 2004 on aggravated murder and robbery charges. He stabbed to death Lawrence Sanders, 83, and struck him in the head with a cast-iron skillet.

Juan Kinley, 49, Clark County, admitted May 1991 for robbery and aggravated murder. He used a machete to murder his girlfriend, Thelma Miller, and her 12-year-old son, David.

Jose Loza, 45, Butler County, admitted November 1991 on four counts of aggravated murder for killing members of his girlfriend’s Middeltown family.

Calvin McKelton, 40, Butler County, admitted in November 1990 on assault, domestic violence, murder, arson, abuse of a corpse and aggravated murder charges. He was sentenced to die for the execution-style shooting of Germaine Evans Sr., a witness who saw him strangle to death his girlfriend, Margaret Allen.

Samuel Moreland, 63, Montgomery County, admitted May 1986 on five counts of murder and three counts of attempted aggravated murder. He shot or beat to death two women and five children in their Dayton home.

Austin Myers, 23, Warren County, admitted October 2017 on aggravated murder, kidnapping, robbery, theft, safecracking, abuse of a corpse and evidence tampering charges. He and accomplice Timothy Mosley were convicted of stabbing to death of Tim Back, 18, at his Waynesville home.

David Myers, 52, Greene County, admitted March 1996 on robbery and aggravated murder charges. He drove a railroad spike into the head of Amanda Jo Maher, 18, of Xenia.

Gregory Osie, 56, Butler County, admitted May 2010 on murder, burglary and robbery charges. He stabbed to death David Williams, a disabled man.

Kerry Perez, 52, Clark County, admitted December 2005, on an aggravated murder charge. He shot and killed Ronald Johnson during a 2003 bar robbery in Springfield.

William Sapp, 55, Clark County, admitted October 1996 on rape, kidnapping, murder and other charges. He was convicted in the beating deaths and rapes of Phree Morrow, 12, and Martha Leach, 11, in 1992 near downtown Springfield.

Duane Short, 50, Montgomery County, admitted June 2006 on burglary and aggravated murder charges. He used a shotgun to kill his estranged wife, Rhonda Short, and Donnie Ray Sweeney.

Kenneth W. Smith, 52, Butler County, admitted February 1996 on aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated murder. He slashed the neck and beat Lewis Ray and strangled Ruth Ray in their Hamilton home.

Clifford Williams, 45, Butler County, admitted February 1991 on breaking and entering, robbery, assault and aggravated murder charges. He shot to death Wayman Hamilton, 39, and stole his money.

Crowded governor field puts Democratic race up for grabs

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 2:51 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 2:51 PM

Akron City Councilwoman Tara Samples (left) and former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich talk to the media after Kucinich announced Samples as his running mate for Ohio governor at the Burning Bush church Friday, Jan. 19, 2017. Karen Schiely/The Akron Beacon Journal
Akron City Councilwoman Tara Samples (left) and former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich talk to the media after Kucinich announced Samples as his running mate for Ohio governor at the Burning Bush church Friday, Jan. 19, 2017. Karen Schiely/The Akron Beacon Journal

Nobody denies the Democratic field of candidates running for Ohio governor is crowded.

But the whether that is a good thing for the party — and its fortunes in November — depends on how the five candidates behave, according to political experts and party officials.

“I am not sure we can assume that a tight primary will damage a candidate for a general election unless the party emerges fractured,” said Mark Caleb Smith, director of the Center for Political Studies at Cedarville College.

Assuming no one drops out — or suddenly appears — by the Feb. 7 filing deadline, Democratic voters will chose among five candidates, two of whom have strong statewide name recognition.

FILE - In this July 19, 2011, file photo, Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington to discuss their support for a bill. Former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray is joining forces with former congresswoman and Obama-era official Sutton in the Ohio governor's race as Democrats position to win back the key battleground state in November.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

RELATED: Hamilton businessman tapped to run with Mary Taylor in governor race

Dennis Kucinich, a former U.S. congressman and former Cleveland mayor, joined the race on Wednesday. Kucinich has twice run for president, but has been out of Congress since 2012, after Republican-led redistricting combined his Cleveland-area district with the one held by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo. Kaptur defeated Kucinich in the Democratic primary.

Ohio Gov. candidate Joe Schiavoni and his running mate Stephanie Dodd(Staff Writer)

Richard Cordray was also a late entry in the Democratic race, joining it in November after leaving his job as director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray has twice won statewide elections — once for Ohio treasurer and once for attorney general. He lost to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in 2010. President Barack Obama then picked him to lead the consumer protection bureau.

RELATED: Richard Cordray brings governor campaign to Dayton

Former Ohio Rep. Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill are also in the running. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley was in the race but dropped out and said she would support Cordray. Former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton withdrew her candidacy after Cordray picked her to be his running mate.

Kucinich on Friday selected Akron councilwoman Tara Samples to join him on the ticket.

Narrowed Republican field

There are just two candidates left on the Republican side: DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. The field narrowed when DeWine tapped Secretary of State Jon Husted to be his running mate. Husted had been running for the top job. Then Rep. Jim Renacci changed races and said he would run for the Senate instead of governor after Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel abandoned his bid for that office, attributing the decision to his wife’s health.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill O’Neill, left, introduces his running mate, Chantelle E. Lewis, an elementary school principal in Lorain County.(Facebook)(Columbus bureau)

Smith says DeWine is the frontrunner in the race and has what he called the “experience edge.” Taylor, who has been in state government since 2003, has taken aim at what she calls “career politicians,” hoping perhaps to borrow from the winning strategy employed by President Donald Trump in Ohio in 2016. She picked Cincinnati businesman Nathan Estruth to be her running mate.

RELATED: DeWine-Husted ticket called governor’s race ‘dream team’ by GOP state senator

“In many ways the Ohio GOP has been ground zero for a Trump-Kasich proxy war,” said Lee Hannah, assistant professor of political science at Wright State University. “I think that could continue into the primaries although I’m not really sure that Taylor and Estruth can keep up with DeWine and Husted’s fundraising,”

No cake walk

Christopher Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton, sees Cordray as the frontrunner in the Democratic race and said the primary will give him a chance to knock off some rust since he hasn’t run for office since 2010.

Connie Pillich is the lone woman remaining in the Democratic field for governor. She picked Marion Mayor Scott Schertzer to be her running mate Thursday. Photo by Jay LaPrete, Associated Press.(Columbus bureau)

RELATED: O’Neill’s boast of sexual liaisons brings calls for his resignation

But it’s far from a cake walk. Kucinich has strong name identification and a working class back story. Pillich is a lawyer, has an Air Force background and is the lone woman in the field. Schiavoni has a strong following in northeast Ohio, a part of the state crucial for any Democrat to win. And O’Neill, while perhaps best described as a wild card, has made enough controversial statements to draw headlines from one end of the state to the other —if nothing else, putting his name before voters.

RELATED: Pillich picks Marion mayor as running mate in governor’s race

Senate Republicans have started a process to remove him from the Supreme Court for campaigning while on the bench.

David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, says he is staying neutral. The party is holding candidate debates open to any of the Democrats willing to be vetted by the party. Only O’Neill has refused to be vetted, according to Pepper.

Pepper said his goal is to have an energetic, transparent primary and he sees it as a plus that five people and their running mates will be scouring the state for votes and preaching the Democratic message. When it’s over, he expects everyone to unite around the candidate who wins.

“The first thing we need to do is make sure the core Democrats are energized about our candidates,” he said.

RELATED: Democrat Kucinich picks running mate in Ohio governor’s race

RELATED: Kucinich launches governor bid

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Democrat Kucinich picks running mate in Ohio governor’s race

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 2:04 PM
Updated: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 2:04 PM

Dennis Kucinich, the newest candidate to announce a bid for Ohio governor, said Akron City Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples would run with him as he seeks the Democratic nomination. PROVIDED
Dennis Kucinich, the newest candidate to announce a bid for Ohio governor, said Akron City Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples would run with him as he seeks the Democratic nomination. PROVIDED

Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Friday chose Akron City Councilwoman Tara Samples as his running mate in his bid for Ohio governor.

Samples fills out the field of lieutenant governor candidates in the 2018 race to replace Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is term limited.

Kucinich, 71, on Wednesday announced his decision to run in the Democratic primary.

RELATED: Kucinich launches governor bid

Samples was elected to council in 2013, works as is a paralegal and is a former court bailiff and U.S. Postal Service employee, according to the Associated Press. Speaking at his news conference in Akron, Kucinich said Samples is a highly regarded community leader, volunteer and political activist and he called it the honor of his life to stand beside her, according to AP.

Kucinich and Samples join a crowded field of Democrats in the May 8 primary. They are Richard Cordray, former director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with his running mate, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron; former state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati and her running mate, Marion Mayor Scott Shertzer; state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, and his running mate Ohio Board of Education member Stephanie Dodd; and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, whose running mate is Chantelle E. Lewis, a Lorain elementary school principal.

Kucinich says state must stop giving tax breaks to wealthy

Candidates on the Republican side are Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his running mate Secretary of State Jon Husted, and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and running mate, Nathan Estruth , a Cincinnati businessman.

The filing deadline for the race is Feb. 7.

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