A Willard man fresh off a lengthy prison term who is accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old relative absconded to Michigan soon after his local arrest warrant was issued.
Ronald D. Ruff, 34, of 2560 Niver Road, is charged with gross sexual imposition, which is punishable by one to five years in prison. Huron County Sheriff's Deputy Shannon Lyons investigated the suspected Aug. 8 incident involving a 10-year-old girl.
"The initial investigation took place Aug. 12, 2012," Sgt. Todd Corbin said. "He just wrapped it up Sept. 22."
Corbin said the sex offense is likely a one-time incident, but there have been similar allegations involving other victimized relatives.
Lyons interviewed Ruff, the girl and her mother during his 10-day investigation.
"He tried to get information from other people, but they didn't want to cooperate," Corbin said.
Norwalk Assistant Law Director Scott Christophel filed one count of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony, Aug. 17 in Norwalk Municipal Court and Judge John Ridge issued a warrant for Ruff's arrest, according to court records. Christophel hasn't returned repeated requests this week to talk about the case.
Soon after the warrant was issued, Ruff "got wind" of it and absconded to Michigan, Corbin said.
The deputy was asked how long the suspect was in Michigan.
"It's hard to say. He was back and forth," Corbin said.
Eventually, the Willard Police Department was able to arrest Ruff. Police records indicate officers had the suspect in custody just before 9 p.m. Sept. 21 at an unspecified location in the city.
Corbin said police apparently received a tip about Ruff's whereabouts. The deputy said Ruff left the Willard residence to keep officers from arresting his brother on local warrants on one count each of failure to report to jail, driving with a suspended license and menacing. The brother hadn't reported to jail to serve time for a possession of drug paraphernalia conviction.
Ruff recently finished serving a 17-year prison term in Michigan.
He was discharged July 19 and isn't on parole. Prison records show Ruff was convicted of armed robbery and a felony firearm violation for a Sept. 11, 1995 crime in Wayne County.
"He's been locked up for the last 17 years. He hadn't been out of prison for too long," Corbin said.
Ruff is out on bond, having posted a $15,000 Monday at the Huron County Jail. His preliminary hearing was this morning.