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Published: Tuesday, 8/29/2006

Judge drops rape charges against chief of Chamber


Judge S. Dwight Osterud dismissed rape charges against the president of the Waterville Chamber of Commerce yesterday in Perrysburg Municipal Court, and instead, the Wood County Prosecutor's Office plans to present its case to a grand jury.

The charges against Douglas R. Hayward were dismissed without prejudice, meaning prosecutors can file the charges again if they believe they have a case. The motion was filed with the court by Assistant Prosecutor Heather Baker.

The charges were dismissed because the alleged victim was injured recently in an accident and was unable to testify in a scheduled pretrial hearing today in Perrysburg Municipal Court, according to the judge's order.

"We still plan to pursue this case," Wood County Prosecutor Raymond Fischer said. "We will be presenting our evidence to a grand jury."

Mr. Hayward was charged with rape after an incident on Aug. 12 in which a woman awoke at a Days Inn in Perrysburg without knowing how she had arrived there. She told motel employees she thought she may have been raped.

Witnesses told The Blade they saw Mr. Hayward and the woman leave General Mad Anthony's Bar in Waterville together the night of Aug. 11.

A grand jury meets privately in Wood County the first and third Wednesday of every month. It would hear the evidence against Mr. Hayward and consider handing up an indictment.

Mr. Hayward, speaking through his wife, Jayne, referred all questions to attorney John Donahue. Mr. Donahue did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Mrs. Hayward said the initial case dismissal vindicated her husband.

"He's been innocent since the beginning," she said.

The woman accusing Mr. Hayward of rape suffered a broken leg and possible head injuries when she was struck by a car while trying to cross a road. She was released from the hospital and was cited for being an intoxicated person in the roadway. Mr. Fischer declined to discuss her current condition.

If convicted of rape, Mr. Hayward could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and made to pay a $20,000 fine, according to Perrysburg police.

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