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Published: Thursday, 3/23/2006

Misuse of judicial discretion

PROBATION for sexually assaulting two young boys over a period of three years?

Probation for acts most people rightly consider among the most despicable of crimes?

We have to ask: What in the world was Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge John Connor thinking?

This all began when Judge Connor sentenced Andrew Selva, 46, to probation for the sexual assaults. Judge Connor said he based his ruling on the law and on psychologists who testified for the prosecution and the defense.

They said treatment could reduce the chances that Selva would commit a similar crime again.

Judge Connor agreed and contended that the defendant poses no further risk to public safety.

For the sake of Ohio's children, we certainly hope they are right.

Judge Connor cites the law, but the law permitted him to sentence Selva to a prison term of up to 10 years. Instead he opted for probation for the man who sexually assaulted two minors.

Moral outrage and a dose of politics compelled Republican House Speaker Jon Husted to threaten to mount a campaign to get Judge Connor, a Democrat, off the bench.

Mr. Husted finally agreed with House Democrats not to pursue the judge's removal and risk creating what some said would have become a circus.

We're not sure it would have made any difference in the sentencing phase, but prosecutors in the case had already dropped efforts to charge Selva with 20 counts of rape, plea-bargaining the case down and then making no sentencing recommendation to the judge on the assault charges.

We absolutely understand the public's anger.

For his part, Judge Connor has no intention of stepping down. But the General Assembly needs to look at the broader issue of sentencing laws that permit a man who brutalizes children to simply walk away with the court's best wishes for a happy future.


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