A Willard inmate is accused of attempting to spit on several Huron County Jail corrections officers Tuesday.
Robert L. Criss, 48, of 590 Emerald St., was charged with two counts of harassment by an inmate. If convicted, he faces one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 on each charge.
Sgt. Larry Coleman, a jail supervisor, witnessed the first incident by camera when he was in jail administrator Virgil Valentine's office.
"As far as I know, nobody was hit. He did attempt when he was being searched," Coleman said. "That's part of the booking process. Everybody is searched when they are being booked."
When asked why Criss attempted to spit on officers, Coleman accused the suspect of "just being disorderly and resistant." After the incident, officers put Criss into a restraint chair which reclines and has straps to be placed over the prisoner's torso and both wrists.
Coleman said Criss is accused of attempting to spit on other officers about 2 1/2 hours after he was brought into the booking area.
Before Criss was booked, deputies initially responded to a disturbance involving Criss in the lobby of the sheriff's office. Norwalk Assistant Law Director T. Douglas Clifford said Criss was trying to get some medication a deputy earlier had confiscated from his wife.
"However, the bottle didn't have any markings on it," Clifford said. "Basically, the label was ripped off."
Criss is accused of getting verbally disruptive in the lobby and was asked to leave, but he reportedly continued to be disorderly, the prosecutor said. Criss was charged with menacing, resisting arrest and persistent disorderly conduct and taken to the jail.
Clifford filed the inmate harassment charges under the portion of the Ohio Revised Code that indicates Criss might have hepatitis, AIDS or tuberculosis. The prosecutor declined further comment, citing federal medical privacy laws.
"That would be one of our concerns if someone was to spit," Coleman said about the diseases, but declined to be more specific.
The jail supervisor said Criss is being held in the medical wing of the jail, but "not because of that," also declining to elaborate.
This is not the suspect's first brush with the law. On Sept. 25, a West Emerald Street, Willard, resident accused Criss of attempting to stab her and her mother when the complainant was retrieving her belongings, police said.
He initially was charged with domestic violence, but the Willard Law Director's office filed two counts of felonious assault in Norwalk Municipal Court the same day of the incident. One of the charges was dismissed Oct. 4, but that could mean it was presented to the Huron County Prosecutor's office for the consideration of being indicted.
Willard Assistant Law Director Scott Christophel couldn't be reached for comment by press time.