A former Lucas County sheriff's deputy was sentenced yesterday to 90 days in jail for punching a man at a church service after allegedly harassing him for more than a year.
Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook said the conduct of Maurice Morris was egregious and the defendant's actions bordered on stalking.
"The bottom line is the abuse of trust. You degraded the viewpoint of officers in this community; officers who wear the uniform and badge and take their job with respect,'' he said.
A jury found Mr. Morris, 42, guilty on Aug. 22 of misdemeanor assault for punching Marlon Wilkins in the face during a March 5 service at Citizens of the King Church, 4224 Airport Hwy. He was off-duty at the time of the incident.
Mr. Morris, who was terminated on Sept. 1 from the department after being found guilty of administrative charges, was accused of charging Mr. Wilkins with unfounded warrants during the year before the assault.
The victim, who was struck after he had been detained by another deputy, implored the court to punish the defendant for the pain and anguish he endured.
"I served time in jail on allegations that he charged me with that were false,'' he said. "He said he lost a lot, but I think I lost a lot also in the fact that my freedom was taken away from me.''
Lt. Don Atkinson, a director with the sheriff's department, also spoke to the court during the hearing. He said Mr. Morris took an oath to uphold the laws of the state and the Constitution.
Judge Cook agreed. "You do have a higher standard. You took an oath as an officer of the law. You were sworn to protect people under the law,'' he said.
In the April indictment, Mr. Morris was also charged with felony perjury for allegedly lying to a grand jury. He was accused of filing assault-on-a-police-officer charges against the victim in which he claimed Mr. Wilkins assaulted him.
However, the perjury count was dismissed by prosecutors prior to the assault trial because of concerns about the evidence.
Judge Cook stayed the sentence, which will be served at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, Stryker, to allow Mr. Morris to file an appeal.
Mr. Morris was placed on probation for two years, fined $500, and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Judge Cook also told Mr. Morris that he could not have any contact with Mr. Wilkins.