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New airport manager is a sex offender

Cary Ashby • May 27, 2011 at 11:14 PM

The new part-time manager of the Huron County Airport is a convicted sex offender.

Norwalk resident Douglas "Doug" B. Arnold, 35, of 17 Indian Terrace, has a contract through Douglas Aviation LLC to work up to 10 hours a week at the airport. On April 23, 2010, he was sentenced to one year in prison for illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance and attempted tampering with evidence. The two felony convictions were through Licking County Common Pleas Court for a 2009 case.

Arnold was convicted of recklessly transferring webcam footage of a partially naked girl -- whom he believed was 13 or 14 years old -- onto a CD or computer file, Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt said.

"It occurred here in Newark," Oswalt said. "When confronted by his wife, he attempted to destroy the disc to keep it from getting to the police."

Classified as a Tier I sex offender, Arnold must register his address with the Huron County Sheriff's Office once a year for the next 15 years. Oswalt said the defendant is prohibited from possessing any obscene material and can't have any contact with minors.

Huron County Commissioner Larry Silcox found out about Arnold's convictions Thursday and verified it through the state's sex offender website.

"It's definitely a concern," Silcox said.

After finding out, the commissioner met with airport authority board president Dennis Sokol and board members J.W. Kelley and John Cross.

"They were both surprised that a background check had not been done," Silcox said about Kelley and Cross' reactions. "They were going to look into it as soon as possible.

"As far as I'm concerned, it definitely should have happened; it would have avoided something like this," Silcox said about a background check.

The commissioner also talked about Sokol's response to the news about Arnold being a sex offender.

"I would say he was shocked," said Silcox, who added that Sokol didn't know about it until Silcox told him. "He said he would address it with the board."

Sokol declined to say if Arnold had a background check done as part of his application process.

"He supplied me with the information I asked for," Sokol said.

Oswalt was asked if Arnold was required to reveal his felony convictions when applying for a job. The prosecutor said Arnold wouldn't have to tell someone unless he were asked.

"He can't lie about it," Oswalt quickly added.

"I know of no law that (says) he can't have that position," he said. "There's probably no license for that."

Silcox said if Arnold "covered up" his criminal past during the application and interviewing process, that would need to be addressed. The commissioner didn't elaborate.

When asked about Arnold's job, Sokol said he's not an employee, but works on a contract through Douglas Aviation LLC for a flat fee of $600 per month to do billing, inspection services and cut the grass at the airport. Sokol also said there are other "limited duties" Arnold could do on an hourly basis.

"He doesn't get a salary. He's not an employee," Sokol said.

Through his research and based on the Ohio Revised Code, Sokol said he understands there's no prohibition from Arnold having a contract because of his felony convictions.

Silcox was asked if the airport board could decide to fire Arnold or have him resign.

"I think that's the decision of the airport board," the commissioner said.

Sokol declined to comment when asked the same question.

"I'm going to decline to comment until I've communicated with the other board members and legal counsel," he said. "I'm just another board member; I can't speak on behalf of the board until they evaluate the information and make a decision."

The board will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the airport to approve bills. The board also will be meeting with Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Daivia Kasper to obtain legal advice during an executive session.

While it's unknown if there will be action by the board after the executive session, Sokol said "whatever action" that's taken eventually will be made public.

Arnold couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

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