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Published: Friday, 3/9/2012

Ex-ranger faces voyeur charge

Toledoan accused of hiding video recorder in restroom

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN -- Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said he was shocked to learn one of his park rangers had been accused of photographing and videotaping women in the restroom at the W.W. Knight Preserve in Perrysburg Township.

"Obviously you put a lot of trust in your employees, especially when they have the authority the rangers have," Mr. Munger said. "It was shocking to us."

John T. Millinger, 26, of Toledo was indicted by a Wood County grand jury Thursday on 11 counts of voyeurism, three counts of theft in office, and one count of tampering with evidence for allegedly using his position as a park ranger and using park district property to "surreptitiously photograph visitors in various states of undress," Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said.

Mr. Millinger, who was hired by the park district in September, 2010, was placed on paid administrative leave by the Wood County Park District after it learned of the possible improprieties in September, but Mr. Munger said the ranger submitted his resignation later the same day.

Mr. Millinger was unable to be reached for comment.

Mr. Dobson said his office became aware of the alleged voyeurism in September when a visitor to the Knight Preserve discovered an iPod with the video recorder in the on position hidden behind a "no smoking" sign in the women's restroom. His office along with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation began an investigation, which turned up evidence of other related incidents.

Mr. Dobson declined to provide specifics about the other incidents but said not all of them were at the Knight Preserve and not all involved restrooms.

"There were different methods he used, but I don't want to identify the different methods," he said.

Mr. Dobson said the 11 individuals in the images were identified and contacted by investigators.

Mr. Munger said the park district carefully screens prospective park rangers, who are certified Ohio peace officers and carry guns and badges on the job.

"All ranger hires have very extensive background checks," he said. "They go through psychological exams. It's pretty extensive, the background checking we do with rangers."

According to his employment application, Mr. Millinger has a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Toledo and graduated from the police academy at Owens Community College.

Before joining the park district, he was working for the Luckey Police Department as a patrol officer and at Westfield Franklin Park mall as a security officer.

Before that, Mr. Millinger was employed with Cedar Point amusement park as a police patrolman and volunteered as an auxiliary officer in Pemberville.

Mr. Munger said the county parks are "absolutely" safe and he believed this was an isolated incident.

"This is such an isolated incident. It's really such a shame that something like that has to cast such a pall on the park district," Mr. Munger said. "They are good people who work here."

Ten of the 11 counts of voyeurism are misdemeanors, while one incident that involved a minor, is a fifth-degree felony.

Theft in office, which charges he used county property to facilitate the voyeurism, also is a fifth-degree felony, and the tampering charge is a third-degree felony.

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



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