ONLINE EXCLUSIVE - Rape case involving 12-year-old girl could last three days

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:55 PM

The state expects the trial of a Cuyahoga County man accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old female relative to last about three days.

In early August, a Huron County grand jury indicted Thomas J. O'Donnell Sr., 40, of Eastlake, on three counts each of rape and gross sexual imposition. The indictment says the former Norwalk resident is accused of committing a "continuous course of criminal activity that started in Erie County and ended in Huron County" on July 1, 4 and 22.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler, during a hearing Monday, said so far there have been no plea negotiations with defense attorney John Allton.

"It's a very serious matter, but we can talk," Leffler told the judge.

On July 25, the victim's mother brought the 12-year-old girl to The Bellevue Hospital emergency room. An employee said the girl "complained of sexual abuse by a family member" that started three weeks earlier, Huron County Sheriff's Lt. Randy Sommers said earlier.

The officer and an investigator with Huron County Children Services then looked into the allegations. Local prosecutors have accused O'Donnell of first raping the victim at his work July 1 in Sandusky and then victimizing the girl twice later in Huron County.

The Erie County incident came to the attention of the Sandusky Police Department on July 24, Assistant Police Chief Charlie Sams said. Officers started an investigation, but after conferring with the sheriff's offices and prosecutors in Erie and Huron counties as well as Huron County Children Services, authorities determined the Huron County Sheriff's Office would handle the investigation.

"We do that when there are multiple jurisdictions involved. It helps clean it up," Sams said.

Allton, O'Donnell's attorney, said he has received evidence such as written reports and tapes from Leffler's office.

"I just got discovery, through no fault of the prosecutor's office. I'm just very behind on this," Allton told the court.

The attorney said he is considering filing motion to have O'Donnell's Oct. 16 trial pushed back. The court scheduled a final pretrial hearing for Oct. 11.

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