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Published: 3/25/2006

Official indicted on menacing allegation

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

An indictment against Henry County Commissioner Steven A. Baden was filed yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for an incident in January involving a 14-year-old girl.

Mr. Baden, 39, of Hamler, Ohio, was indicted on one count of menacing by stalking, a fourth-degree felony that carries a maximum possible sentence of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine upon conviction.

He is accused of following a girl who was walking in her South Toledo neighborhood on the afternoon of Jan. 31. Authorities said he drove up to her, got out of his vehicle, and called, "Come here, little girl," before chasing her for a short time on foot.

The grand jury, which was presented with evidence in the case on Thursday afternoon, also was asked to indict Mr. Baden on a charge of attempt to commit abduction. But the panel didn't return an indictment.

Mr. Baden, a Republican, is a former Hamler mayor. He has been a commissioner since 2003, when he was appointed to replace Richard Bertz, who resigned because of ill health.

Toledo attorney Richard Hasbrook, who represents Mr. Baden, said his client will not resign from his elected position. "He is not going to resign as commissioner. He intends to fulfill the duties of his office," he said.

Mr. Baden was arrested Feb. 8 and led out of the commissioners' office in Napoleon in handcuffs. Toledo police who investigated the girl's accusations charged him with attempted abduction.

Lori Olender, an assistant county prosecutor, said the charge handed up by the grand jury was more reflective of the alleged incident because the victim was not touched or grabbed.

Police said Mr. Baden was in his red Mustang in the area of Baden Street and Walbridge Avenue and drove around the block four or five times while the girl and a friend were walking home from school.

The victim went to her home, and later left to walk to a friend's home. She said she was walking in the parking lot of the nearby Broadway Food Center, where Mr. Baden got out of his car, authorities said.

Mr. Hasbrook said his client has the support of the community in Henry County.

"He has received calls from people who have asked him to continue in his office," he said. "Mr. Baden is gratified that the local county grand jury determined that no probable cause existed for the alleged offense of attempted abduction."

Mr. Baden will receive a summons to appear in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for arraignment. A date for the hearing has not been scheduled.

Mr. Hasbook said his client will enter a plea of not guilty, and he will ask the court to set a date for a pretrial hearing.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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