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Published: Wednesday, 1/18/2012

Child rape, porn convictions reinstated

State top court rules against ex-Toledoan

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
Dennis Gould, 47, had no expectation of privacy for what was on his computer's hard drive, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled. Dennis Gould, 47, had no expectation of privacy for what was on his computer's hard drive, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled.
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COLUMBUS -- A former Toledo man had abandoned his computer's hard drive and had no expectation to privacy for what was on it, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Tuesday as it unanimously reinstated his child rape and pornography convictions.

The images on that drive, depicting acts with a 7-year-old girl, led to Dennis Gould, 47, receiving two concurrent life sentences on the rape convictions plus time on the pornography charge. He has been serving his sentences in the Toledo Correctional Institution during the appeals process.

The high court found that police had not violated his rights when they searched his abandoned hard drive. He had left it with his mother, telling her not to "let anybody get their hands on it."

He left it there when he moved into his own apartment. She returned it to him out of fear for what it contained, but he left it behind again when he later stole his twin brother's truck and left Toledo for Lansing, Mich. He was gone for months.

When his brother sold his belongings, Gould's mother retrieved the hard drive. She later turned it over to police and told them she believed it had been abandoned.

Police checked the hard drive into its evidence room and did nothing with it while trying unsuccessfully to locate Gould.

Finally, after receiving the consent of his mother, police searched the hard drive's contents without a warrant.

The Toledo-based 6th District Court of Appeals had thrown out his convictions, finding that the hard drive had been searched in violation of Gould's Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure. The images found on that drive were inadmissible at trial, it said.

The Supreme Court disagreed.

"From the time he left Toledo until his arrest by federal marshals sometime before June 3, 2007, Gould never inquired about the hard drive or attempted to assert control over it or its location, he concealed his whereabouts, and he never knew the hard drive had been removed from his apartment when his brother sold his other belongings,'' wrote Justice Terrence O'Donnell.

"And even if we consider the period of time from when Gould left Toledo until Detective [Jim] Dec searched the hard drive in December, 2006, the facts reveal that Gould had not made any inquiry about the hard drive or asserted control over it for almost four months,'' he wrote. "Hence, the police could have reasonably concluded that Gould had abandoned it.''

Gould's attorney, Jeremy Masters, had argued that, by leaving the hard drive with his family, he had never legally abandoned it.

The defense maintained that Gould's mother had later provided additional information that had at least temporarily placed the hard drive back into the possession of Gould, undermining the contention that it had been abandoned. Mr. Masters did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

Lucas County Assistant Prosecutor Evy M. Jarrett said the primary goal was to ensure that the convictions were reinstated.

But she said she had also been concerned that the 6th District had overstepped its role in reweighing testimony heard by the trial court, deciding to believe one witness over another.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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