TIFFIN - For the second time in four months, a Tiffin man has been convicted of engaging in sexual activity with children in his home in the 1990s.
Daniel H. Chaney, 38, was found guilty Tuesday of two counts of gross sexual imposition by a jury in Seneca County Common Pleas Court. According to Seneca County Prosecutor Ken Egbert, Jr., Chaney molested two girls, ages 6 and 8, at his former home on South Sandusky Street in 1992.
Chaney was found guilty in November of two counts of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl at the same location in 1997. That victim, who is now 16, testified against Chaney at his first trial in November and again in this week's case as an "other acts witness," Mr. Egbert said.
In the more recent trial, the case against Chaney was based solely on the testimony of the victims and sheriff's Detective Kevin Reinbolt, who investigated the sexual abuse allegations after they came to light in November, 2002.
That, Mr. Egbert said, was the biggest challenge in winning a conviction.
"I didn't have any eyewitnesses, and there normally aren't eyewitnesses to sexual abuse," Mr. Egbert said. "There wasn't any physical evidence, and there wasn't going to be because of the passage of time."
In both cases involving Chaney, the victims told family members about the abuse years after it happened, the prosecutor said. He said their willingness to testify was courageous.
"These three young ladies, it was very difficult having to go through trial and be subject to cross examination about matters that were very personal to them and very embarrassing, but they felt they wanted to have an opportunity to get some justice for what happened to them, that he be held accountable," Mr. Egbert said.
Chaney was sentenced to life in prison for the November convictions, with the possibility of parole after 23 years. He could be sentenced to as much as 10 additional years for this week's convictions, and Mr. Egbert said he will ask Judge Steve Shuff to issue the maximum term.
"My goal is to try to get him up over 30 years before he would even be eligible to get out," the prosecutor said. "He'll be in prison for a long, long time."
Charles Hall, who represented Chaney this week, said the verdict will be appealed to the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Lima, as was the November conviction. Mr. Hall said he objected to the admission of testimony by the girl whom Chaney was convicted of assaulting in November.
The jury was not informed that Chaney had been convicted and sentenced to prison in the first case, and they may have felt compelled to find him guilty to punish him for both cases, he said.
"I think the jury was hesitant with these charges to find him guilty, but I think the deciding factor was this 'other acts' evidence," Mr. Hall said.
"They used it in such a way as to describe there being a modus operandi from the prosecutor's side of things. I simply don't see it that way in this case. ... I think the prosecutor inflamed the jurors a little bit."
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