State and local sheriff’s investigators reported finding a large amount of “disturbing evidence” at the scene of the suspected rape of a 14-year-old Richland County girl.
A Greenwich teen and his 17-year-old girlfriend face multiple charges in connection with the investigation.
Lawrence E. Hickman, 19, of 3764 E. U.S. 224, Lot 26, is charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and tampering with evidence. If he posts a $30,000 bond, he is prohibited from having any association with any non-family members under the age of 18.
The Huron County Sheriff’s Office arrested Hickman at his place of employment, a Milan factory, Saturday morning.
“He was arrested and brought to the sheriff’s office, where he admitted to having sexual intercourse with the 14-year-old (girl),” Detective Sgt. Josh Querin said.
Also arrested during the investigation was Hickman’s girlfriend, a 17-year-old Greenwich girl.
“She stays with him from time to time,” Querin said.
The girlfriend was charged with complicity to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, complicity to tampering with evidence, obstructing official business and underage consumption.
“At the time of the arrest, she was highly intoxicated. That arrest took place at 8 a.m. (Saturday),” Querin said. “She was arrested and taken to the Seneca County (youth) detention center.”
The girl appeared for a detention hearing Monday in Huron County Juvenile Court. Chris Mushett, court administrator, said the girl was released to the custody of her mother on house arrest with the condition she have no association with Hickman or his 14-year-old accuser.
Deputies started investigated the case soon after the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call at 3:30 a.m. Saturday. Querin said the call came from a female subject who lives in Huron County.
"The road patrol responded to the call and after that, notified the detective bureau,” he said.
Querin said he, Detective Rich Larson and deputies obtained a search warrant to check on the well-being of residents at Hickman’s mobile home and to find and seize evidence of underage drinking and drug abuse. The search happened about 7:40 a.m.
"Nobody was present when the search warrant was executed,” Querin said. “There were signs of underage drinking and drug abuse.”
Deputies later called the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification to process the suspect’s residence about the rape allegations. Larson assisted BCI agents with the secondary search warrant about 1:40 p.m.
“There was a significant amount of disturbing evidence at the scene that will connect Mr. Hickman directly to the crime,” said Querin, who declined to say what that evidence was. “There’s a chance he could be indicted on additional charges.”
Hickman’s preliminary hearing in Norwalk Municipal Court is scheduled for Monday. If he waives his right for prosecutors to present evidence, the case would be transferred to Huron County Common Pleas Court to be reviewed by a grand jury for a possible indictment.