COLUMBUS – A local media outlet is calling Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost “a no-show on victim rights” and questioning whether his office’s investigators violated Marsy’s Law after five women accused Sandusky County prosecutor Tim Braun of sexual misconduct, leading to a plea deal that lets Braun avoid jail time and keep his taxpayer-funded job.
“After multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct and harassment, the Republican prosecutor in Sandusky County is being permitted to keep his job and its taxpayer-funded salary through 2020,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson Kirstin Alvanitakis. “This situation begs the question why he is getting what appears to be a sweetheart deal, with no jail time. Dave Yost refused to answer a local newspaper’s questions about whether his office’s investigation was handled properly and if the victims were given full consideration throughout the process. In October, Yost had called on the prosecutor to step down — but a few weeks later, the prosecutor is pleading guilty to a single misdemeanor and hanging on to his job. Why didn’t Yost’s office pursue criminal charges in this case? He hasn’t answered that question either.”
Critics contend Yost’s investigators from the state crime lab and a special prosecutor handling the case have fixed it so there’s no real punishment for Braun if he does accept the plea deal. Yost, and nobody from his team, is addressing the points they’ve made.
Marsy’s Law, a victim rights law approved by voters in 2017, requires criminal investigations be conducted in a timely fashion, that victims be given the right to be fully heard and have a voice in any resolutions to a criminal matter. The crime lab agents failed to even give notice to the victims of their rights, according to sources, which also is required under Marsy’s Law.
Yost would not confirm or deny whether the agents ignored the statute.
Yost ignored all the questions he was asked, but he did have an assistant provide a non-responsive reply.
Tim Braun is still the Sandusky County Prosecutor.
Despite pleading guilty to negligent assault, in which he’s alleged to have inappropriately touched two women in his office, including one woman’s breast, Braun remains prosecutor and is being paid by Sandusky County taxpayers.
But for workers inside his department, Braun remaining in office until he officially resigns June 30, 2020, is the toxic normal, according to records obtained by the News-Messenger from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
One employee of Braun’s office read a victim’s impact statement in court Friday detailing how, since taking office in January 2017, Braun abused his power and created a hostile work environment that included fondling her breast, and that he was obsessed with control and claimed to be the most powerful person in Sandusky County.
And he wielded that power behind closed doors at his office, according to a Sandusky County Sheriff’s Office report that details the women’s allegation of Braun’s abuse of power and his obsession with females in his office.
According to employees’ statements, a main object of Braun’s obsession was former administrative assistant Valerie Van Fleet.
Van Fleet was the subject of scare tactics with Braun that included inappropriate behavior with her and other employees, which included forcing the woman whose breast Braun fondled to watch child pornography videos at work for a case he was handling, one worker alleged in the sheriff’s report.
The woman said Sandusky County Prosecutor Tim Braun made numerous inappropriate comments about her and her coworkers’ body types, their clothing, and what he finds attractive. She claims he put his hands “all over” a pregnant woman in the office.
Every day, it was manipulation, touching, accusations, lying, and scheming — all at the hands of a man who took an oath to uphold the laws, she said.
“He asked me what I was doing to please my husband at home and that he bet I’d be fun to have sex with. I could go on, and on, and on,” the woman said.
Mr. Braun pleaded guilty in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court Friday to negligent assault, a third-degree misdemeanor, following largely secret proceedings into sexual misconduct allegations by the prosecutor. Retired Cuyahoga County Judge Janet Burnside sentenced him to 60 days in jail, but with that jail time suspended. He also will serve a year on community control.
He’ll remain, for now, as county prosecutor and on the taxpayers’ dime, but he’ll eventually be forced to resign by June 30.
“He wanted the women of his office to be nothing but submissive, and when we didn’t submit, he abused his power and used it to shred our character,” the woman said. “… he is a sick man and a control freak.”
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