Teen who left Christian-based treatment is sent to prison

Defense attorney: "Only his ego kept him from going back and begging for another chance."
Cary Ashby
Jan 16, 2014

A former Norwalk man who left a Christian-based substance abuse program was sentenced to one year in prison Wednesday.

Justin E. Legg, 19, can apply for early release 30 days after he is in prison. However, Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said he's not likely to consider the application until 60 days.

"It appears he absconded from the (Teen Challenge) program and was apprehended in Michigan," Conway said.

Teen Challenge is an intense, year-long program for people of all ages with life-controlling addictions.

"We don't feel like Mr. Legg is amenable to community control sanctions," said Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff, who recommended a prison term with early release into a community-based corrections facility. A CBCF is a form of prison which focuses on substance abuse treatment and education.

In mid-September, Legg pleaded guilty to theft of a firearm. The conviction is for May 29 incident. As part of a plea deal, the state agreed not to indict Legg on one count each of grand theft, theft of drugs and burglary, which had been transferred from Norwalk Municipal Court earlier in September.

Legg later was sentenced to Teen Challenge. Huron County Public Defender David Longo said his client did fairly well in the program for a while and then after hitting "a stretch of negativity," Legg discussed the situation with another Teen Challenge participant who recommended they both leave.

"He deeply regrets it. Only his ego kept him from going back and begging for another chance," Longo said.

Conway warned Legg that if he "screws up" while he's in prison, instead of being released into a CBCF, he faces three years of parole.

"Good luck to you, Mr. Legg. Remember -- keep your nose clean and I'll take a look at judicial release," Conway said.