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Sex offender avoids prison term, gets 6 months in county jail

Cary Ashby • May 30, 2014 at 9:31 PM

A convicted sex offender is spending the next six months in the Huron County Jail.

Stephen Erwin, 23, of 104 E. Seminary St., is prohibited from having any association with the 15-year-old female victim and any non-family females under the age of 18 during his three years of basic probation. He also must undergo psychological counseling and sex offender treatment. Erwin also was fined $500 Wednesday.

The defendant, who earlier served about 20 days in jail, must register his address with the Huron County Sheriff's Office every six months for the next 25 years. As a Tier II sex offender, he also can't live within 1,000 feet of a school, preschool or daycare center.

Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway, during Wednesday's sentencing hearing, said it appears the victim suffered "some psychological harm," based on her victim impact report.

"I'd like to apologize to the family," Erwin told the judge, although the victim and her family weren't in court.

"Honestly it will never happen again. ... I'm doing what I can to stay on the right track," the defendant said.

Conway ruled he couldn't find Erwin was remorseful because he committed numerous sex-related offenses with the girl over a six-month period. The defendant's family declined to comment after the hearing.

In mid-April, Erwin pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful sexual conduct of a minor. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dismissed nine similar charges.

During the investigation by Greenwich Police Officer Aaron Smith, Erwin "readily admitted his conduct," Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff said. The prosecutor recommended a prison term since Erwin's crime was a serious offense -- despite his lack of an earlier felony conviction and not having any adjudications through juvenile court.

The victim's father notified police after her father checked her Facebook page and "came across" some disturbing information. Smith, the investigating officer, also said Erwin lived in Greenwich at one point and one of the sex offenses happened in Willard.

Huron County Public Defender David Longo said he strongly disagreed with the state's recommendation for a prison term since Erwin doesn't have a previous history of committing sex offenses, there weren't multiple victims and the girl's family wasn't recommending Erwin be punished severely.

"I don't think he had a real girlfriend before," Longo said, although it's unknown if Erwin and the girl were dating.

Longo said his impression of the defendant was he's "kind of a schmuck" and isn't "a terribly worldly guy."

If Erwin violates his probation, he faces 18 months in prison.

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