Ex-principal convicted in child porn exits prison despite protests

Prosecutors object to 48-year-old man's early release.
TNS Regional News
Sep 20, 2013


Against the objections of prosecutors, a former Rossford elementary principal convicted of downloading child pornography on his home computer was released early from prison on Thursday.

Wood County Common Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey granted a motion for judicial release filed by William Buzzell, 48, who has served 17 months of his four-year prison sentence.

Judge Kelsey placed him on community control for five years and imposed a number of restrictions, including the requirement that he follow all of those terms or face a return to prison.

The judge said he would reserve the right to impose the remainder of Buzzell’s four-year term as well as an additional five years in prison if there are any violations “especially if that does involve any sexually oriented offense for which there will be zero tolerance.”

Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said after the brief hearing that he was disappointed in the judge’s ruling.

“The sentence was specifically crafted for him to have the penalty of a four-year sentence with rehabilitative efforts through community control sanctions to follow that,” Mr. Dobson said. “A four-year sentence was an appropriate response given all the facts involved in this. He was an elementary principal who came into daily contact with children of the same age as the children he was viewing at home.”

In 2012, Buzzell pleaded no contest to three counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor and one count of possession of criminal tools. As part of the plea agreement, he surrendered his Ohio principal’s license. He had been principal at Glenwood Elementary School.

Heather Baker, an assistant Wood County prosecutor, reminded the court on Thursday that Buzzell had admitted to downloading child pornography for “two to three years before he was arrested by police.”

“What’s interesting is that Mr. Buzzell agreed to go to prison for four years,” she said. “He’s served 17 months of that prison sentence, which isn’t even close to the number of years that he admitted he had been engaging in this behavior.” She said releasing him early sends the wrong message.

“As I’ve indicated to this court on multiple occasions, downloading child pornography creates a market for individuals to produce that material,” Ms. Baker said. “In Mr. Buzzell’s case, because he was downloading and deleting it, every time he had the urge to watch it he would have to download it.”

L. Leah Reibel, attorney for Buzzell, said her client had served 14 months on house arrest before his confinement in prison. She also pointed out that Buzzell cannot get treatment for his problem at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution where he had been imprisoned, but that if he was released from prison he has been assured he would be re-accepted into a sexual behavior treatment program at Behavioral Connections.

Asked if he wanted to make a statement on his own behalf, Buzzell, who was shackled and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, replied, “No, your Honor. Thank you.”

As part of Buzzell's probation, Judge Kelsey ordered him to perform 300 hours of community service in addition to the 300 hours imposed as part of his original sentence. He directed him to be assessed for mental health care and to complete and pay for that treatment.

“You will keep your probation officer notified and apprised of all computers in your residence and place of employment and upon your probation officer’s request you shall submit to a search of those computers by your probation officer or other qualified person,” the judge said.


By Jennifer Feehan - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)

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