BOWLING GREEN - Richard Herman went to jail Tuesday to begin serving a 90-day sentence for molesting a young girl in his Rossford home in January, 2004.
The three months he's behind bars is only a temporary consolation for a former Toledo woman whose two grandchildren have been living in the Herman home since August - the same month Herman was indicted by a Wood County grand jury on two counts of gross sexual imposition.
"There's no protection for children,'' said Lori Carroll, who now lives in Morehead, Ky.
She said she and her son have tried to get Wood County's children's protective services to intervene, but they have been told the agency cannot investigate or remove the children from the home unless there is a specific allegation of abuse.
Paulette Stephens, director of Wood County Job and Family Services, said her agency promptly investigates every allegation of child abuse or neglect, but state law does not allow it to step in when there is not an allegation. She said that in this case, the agency checked the court order filed after Herman was sentenced in Common Pleas Court March 24, but it contained no restrictions about his having contact with children other than the victim in the criminal case.
Herman, 52, pleaded guilty in January to the two third-degree felonies, admitting that he had molested a 9-year-old girl in his home. He had no prior criminal record, and Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry sentenced him to 90 days in jail, four years of community control, and 300 hours of community service. The judge ordered him to undergo a sexual offender evaluation and complete any treatment requirements.
Judge Mayberry also found Herman to be a sexually oriented offender, a designation that places his photo and vital statistics on Ohio's registry of sex offenders and requires him to register with the sheriff's office in the county where he lives.
Asked about Mrs. Carroll's concerns, Judge Mayberry said he was not aware Herman's two young grandchildren were living under his roof. He said if he had been made aware of that fact, he probably would have made it a condition of Herman's probation that he not be in unsupervised situations with children.
Assistant County Prosecutor Gary Bishop said he too was unaware the children lived in the house until after Herman was sentenced. He declined to say whether he will seek a modification of Herman's probation.
Rossford police, who have gotten numerous calls from Jeremiah Carroll asking them to check on the children, admit they are disturbed by the situation and have turned the matter over to the city prosecutor.
"Our concern is we have a person who's now a convicted sex offender that's living in a home with two minor children,'' Sgt. Brian Cranny said.
Mr. Bishop said he didn't think anyone in the judicial system was to blame for the situation.
"I wouldn't call it an error on anybody's part,'' Mr. Bishop said. "I don't think it's possible for anyone to foresee that his own family, knowing he was convicted, would nevertheless allow grandchildren to be in the home with him."
Tiffany Carroll, the children's mother, said she is certain her father is innocent, and she knows her children are safe in his home. She said her former in-laws do not like her family and want to get custody of her son and daughter.
"We're allowed to be in this house,'' she said. "There are no rules stating they can't be here. These kids are perfectly fine, perfectly safe.''
In fact, the Carrolls' dissolution became final March 28 with Rowan County, Ky., Circuit Judge William B. Mains granting sole custody of the children to Tiffany Carroll.
Ronnie Goldy, attorney for Jeremiah Carroll, said he plans to file a motion to modify the custody arrangement.
Judge Mains declined to comment.
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