The Bryan Times,
I’ve read the reporting in The Bryan Times regarding the crime of the release of documents concerning an alleged abuse of a minor child.
What raises my eye is the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation coming into the county to investigate this misdemeanor allegation. BCI rarely comes into any county regarding misdemeanors! Because of this I started asking questions.
To my surprise, allegedly a police chief along with a Williams County Commissioner went to the county prosecutor in an attempt to get charges filed against Towns. The county prosecutor doesn’t handle misdemeanor cases. Normal process directs these to be sent to the Bryan city attorney. They handle all misdemeanor cases in the county. The prosecutor handles only felonies.
In my opinion, rather than following the normal process, the county prosecutor, out of character, decided to request BCI to investigate this case. I believe the norm would be for the Ohio Ethics Commission in Columbus to hear such cases. If they feel it warrants prosecution, they would in turn contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. How strange!
I did find an Ohio Attorney General’s opinion, if I understand it correctly, which states the AG’s office will not pursue certain alleged ethics violations. They would be directed to the Ohio Ethics Commission as they are specifically empowered in such cases. The violation in which the Sheriff was charged is one of the codes the Ethics Commission would make a determination on, not the Attorney General.
In my opinion, there was a rush to prosecute the Sheriff in order to keep him off the ballot for reelection! This situation would not have traveled fast enough through the Ethics Commission to prevent him from being on the primary ballot.
Now the county board of election has to decide if Towns can be on the ballot because of the conviction of a first degree misdemeanor.
Towns is appealing the conviction and many feel he will prevail, and the conviction will be overturned. If so, he could still hold the office of Sheriff.
The solution is simple. Leave him on the ballot. If he wins the appeal he has a right to be on the ballot. If he loses the appeal but wins the election, by law he is out. This is the right thing to do.
* (Word is a former county sheriff and county commissioner)