Zerkle acquitted on all charges

Aaron Krause • Nov 7, 2014 at 11:25 PM

A jury acquitted former Willard resident Howard R. Zerkle on all charges today after deliberating for 12 hours over two days.

Zerkle, 81, was charged with one count each of kidnapping, rape and sexual battery in connection with a Jan. 31 incident involving an 18-year-old mentally impaired female.

Zerkle didn’t take the stand Tuesday and defense attorney Geoffrey Oglesby declined to offer any witnesses.

 After the victim, now 19, met Zerkle through a possibly misdialed text, he picked up her at her Plymouth apartment in his car and “they disappeared into the night,” Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Daivia Kasper said.

“This is every family’s nightmare,” she told the jury. “It’s frightening; it’s scary. It calls for immediate action.”

“That is kidnapping,” Kasper said. “He doesn’t drop her off (at her apartment) unharmed; she was raped.”

Oglesby alleged there was no force involved in the sex acts.

“We know he didn’t threaten her,” Oglesby said. “What we have is one adult who went out with another adult.”

Look for the full story in Friday’s Reflector.

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