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Published: Friday, 11/3/2006

Perrysburg Township officer is fired after indictment on rape charge

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Perrysburg Township police officer was fired yesterday, a day after he was indicted by a Wood County grand jury on a rape charge.

Richard Solether, 39, of 10251 Barlow Crossing, Perrysburg Township, is accused of sexually assaulting a female in Wood County while off duty Aug. 21.

Mr. Solether was issued a summons to appear in court Nov. 17 for a scheduled arraignment before county Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry.

Mr. Solether could not be reached for comment yesterday. Sheldon Wittenberg, a Toledo lawyer who is representing Mr. Solether, did not return a phone message yesterday seeking comment.

Mr. Solether was hired by the township as a part-time officer in July, 2005, and promoted to full-time status in March.

Perrysburg Township police Chief Edward Stribrny said Mr. Solether was placed on paid administrative leave shortly after the alleged incident occurred and was reinstated on a limited basis after a little more than 30 days.

Because township officers are on probationary status for a year after being promoted to full-time employment, the chief and township administrator

John Hrosko said the township elected to terminate Mr. Solether's employment.

According to a police report filed by township Sgt. Robert Gates, the township was notified of the incident by a reporting person Aug. 25. Chief Stribrny confirmed the reporting person was a police officer from another jurisdiction in Wood County, but neither he nor Heather Baker, an assistant county prosecutor, would specify where the alleged rape occurred.

Chief Stribrny said the township turned the case over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation to avoid any departmental conflict involving one of its officers. BCI forwarded its findings to the county prosecutor's office, which presented the case to the grand jury.

Requests made by The Blade to view Mr. Solether's personnel file were first met with trepidation by township officials, who said they had to clear any disclosure of public records regarding the matter through the prosecutor's office.

Chief Stribrny eventually made a portion of Mr. Solether's file available, which showed the officer had previously been reprimanded for being late to work April 21.

Not included in Mr. Solether's file, but reported to The Blade by the chief, was a prior arrest for disorderly conduct over 10 years ago that was uncovered during a routine background check.

Chief Stribrny said the arrest came shortly after Mr. Solether was discharged from the Marines and was not a reason to deny him employment.

"There was no indication from the majority of the people we talked to regarding Mr. Solether that there was anything to be alarmed about," the chief said. "His arrest appeared to be a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Mr. Solether's indictment may have come at the wrong time for the township, which is asking voters to approve a 3-mill police levy on Tuesday's ballot.

Bob Mack, chairman of the township's board of trustees, said he hoped the indictment would not affect a levy that would generate in excess of $1 million to fund the police department's budget.

"We have a first-rate police service," Mr. Mack said. "Things like this are a little bit out of control and can happen anywhere. It happened in our township, and that's unfortunate."

Trustee Gary Britten said the police levy should not be affected because "what one individual does on his own time has nothing to do with the police department."

Mr. Hrosko said he also didn't think Mr. Solether's indictment should affect the levy, but added the decision is up to voters.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com or

419-410-5055.



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