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Published: Saturday, 1/22/2005

Child molester spared a prison term

A Holland man who molested three teenage boys was sentenced yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to a work-release program and placed on community control.

Jerry Edwards, 40, of 634 Dorcas Rd., was spared a prison sentence, in part, so that he could keep his job at the DaimlerChrysler Jeep plant, allowing him to support his family.

"But that doesn't mean the defendant is not being punished for what occurred," Judge Charles Wittenberg said.

Edwards will spend the next year in the county work-release program, and must follow an assortment of conditions for the next five years in the community control program. He also must attend the sex-offender program in the work-release program.

Judge Wittenberg said the court would have "zero tolerance" for Edwards' not complying with conditions of community control, adding that any violation would result in him going to prison for five years.

Lori Olender, an assistant county prosecutor, said Edwards had sexual contact with the boys, who are now 14, 15, and 16, in his home on separate occasions in 2002 and 2003.

Ms. Olender said the victims were in the home to receive instruction in karate from the defendant.

Edwards pleaded no contest on Sept. 15 to three counts of gross sexual imposition.

But his attorney, Lorin Zaner, told Judge Wittenberg his client was innocent.

Mr. Zaner said Edwards passed a lie-detector test with "flying colors."

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