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Rossford ex-principal accepts deal on child porn

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BOWLING GREEN — Former Glenwood Elementary Principal William Buzzell is likely to spend four years in prison and give up his elementary principal’s license under a deal worked out Monday in Wood County Common Pleas Court.

Buzzell, 46, of Perrysburg pleaded no contest and was found guilty of three counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor and one count of possession of criminal tools for downloading and sharing child pornography on his home computer.

Judge Reeve Kelsey scheduled sentencing for April 19 and told Buzzell that under the law, he could face up to 25 years in prison for the crimes. Buzzell was scheduled to go to trial April 18.

Heather Baker, an assistant Wood County prosecutor, told the court that the prosecution and defense had agreed to a recommended sentence of four years in prison followed by five years of community control.

Buzzell, she said, also had agreed to forfeit the computer seized from his home last year and permanently surrender his elementary principal’s license.

The ex-principal of Glenwood Elementary School has been on unpaid leave from Rossford schools, which had been paying him $102,000 a year. He is a former teacher and assistant principal at Olmsted Falls Middle School in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, who was hired as Glenwood principal in August, 2000.

Interim Superintendent Bill McFarland said the former principal did not receive salary nor health benefits since his suspension and has not been paid for unused vacation time.

Mr. McFarland said Monday night that the board would need to await criminal sentencing or resolution of a civil action between the school district and Buzzell to make a final decision on Buzzell’s employment. He declined further comment.

Buzzell made no comments during the brief hearing other than to answer Judge Kelsey’s questions about himself and his understanding of the plea he was making.

He told the judge, when questioned, that he was taking medication for anxiety and depression, adding, “But it does not affect my decision-making ability.”

Ms. Baker told the court Perrysburg police Detective Patrick Jones discovered during an investigation that began Feb. 22, 2011, that Buzzell was sharing files that contained child pornography.

Among the downloads he made were videos that contained explicit depictions of what appeared to be a 10-year-old girl in sexual situations with an adult male.

Police executed a search warrant March 1 at the Buzzells’ White Road home. Ms. Baker said Buzzell told police at that time “that there had been pornography pop-ups that had been coming up on his computer.” He did not admit to downloading the porn, but told police there was no one else in his house who would be looking at child pornography, Ms. Baker said.

The Toledo Police Department’s computer crimes unit analyzed Buzzell’s computer and confirmed the files Detective Jones had downloaded were on Buzzell’s computer but had been deleted by the time of the analysis, she said.

Buzzell’s attorney, Jeff Helmick, declined to comment afterward and said his client had no comment.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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