Saturday, November 01, 2014

Court clears Ottawa man’s name after child sex case

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 11/13/2013

An Ottawa man who was the defendant in an alleged child sexual abuse case no longer carries that stigma attached to his record.

John Boyd, Eric Scrutchfield’s Ottawa defense attorney, confirmed Tuesday the case had been expunged from his client’s record in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. A search of court documents Wednesday showed Scrutchfield had a clear record.

An Ottawa man who was the defendant in an alleged child sexual abuse case no longer carries that stigma attached to his record.

John Boyd, Eric Scrutchfield’s Ottawa defense attorney, confirmed Tuesday the case had been expunged from his client’s record in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. A search of court documents Wednesday showed Scrutchfield had a clear record.

“The case has been wiped out as if it had never been filed,” Boyd said. “He’s grateful and looking forward to moving on with his life.”

In August, the special prosecutor dropped all charges against Scrutchfield just days before his second jury trial in the case was to begin in district court.

A Franklin County jury March 8 found Scrutchfield not guilty of rape and lewd and lascivious behavior in connection with an alleged sexual assault against a then-4-year-old girl sometime between March and May 2011 at Yvonne Scrutchfield Day Care Home, 607 N. Cedar St., an Ottawa day care business run by his wife, which was closed by the state because of the allegations.

A jury of six men and six women, however, could not reach a verdict on the other two charges in connection with the case — aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated criminal sodomy — after 23 1/2 hours of deliberation. Scrutchfield faced life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years, on three of the four charges.

The Douglas County District Attorney’s Office filed the charges against Scrutchfield in June 2011 and was handling the case because of Scrutchfield’s previous employment with Franklin County, where he worked as a computer support specialist.

The alleged victim’s mother filed a civil suit against the Scrutchfields in late March, seeking $3.5 million in damages. The civil suit also has been dropped. District Judge Eric W. Godderz, who presided over the criminal proceedings, dismissed the civil suit Oct. 30, according to court records.

Given Scrutchfield’s acquittal on the rape and lewd and lascivious charges and the fact the jury had voted 11-1 to acquit Scrutchfield on the other two charges, Boyd said in an August interview he thought it would have been better for all parties involved if the prosecutor would have dropped the remaining two charges soon after the first trial. Scrutchfield could not be retried on the rape and lewd and lascivious charges.

Boyd also confirmed the prosecutor’s office had offered Scrutchfield plea bargains — which Scrutchfield turned down — in an attempt to resolve the case without a jury trial. Prosecutors also had offered a plea deal to Scrutchfield in the weeks after the first trial, the former defendant confirmed in an email.

Scrutchfield could not be reached for comment about the court expunging his case and the civil suit being dismissed. Scrutchfield had maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, the first trial and in the months afterward.

“Like all the other pleas that they offered me, I turned this one down as well,” Scrutchfield wrote in an Aug. 15 email regarding the unspecified plea deal prosecutors offered him following the first trial.

Scrutchfield also commented in the Aug. 15 email about the charges being dropped.

“My guess is that they knew the case well enough to have their own doubts and figured a second trial would not go their way either,” he said.

Scrutchfield also expressed his desire to have the case expunged, which now has come to fruition.

“We are gearing up to file papers for my expungement,” he wrote in August, “so that I can go back to having a clean and clear record and finally have this behind me.”

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