Lawsuit: Ohio landlord whipped second, mentally disabled man

associated press Published:

WAYNESVILLE -- An Ohio landlord charged with whipping an adult tenant with a belt on his buttocks for falling behind on his rent has been accused of whipping another man with a belt and a paddle, according to court records obtained Friday.

In a lawsuit filed in Warren County, Mark Neace accuses Ronald Kronenberger of spanking him on four separate occasions while Neace worked as a volunteer in Kronenberger's grocery store in Waynesville.

The lawsuit, which describes Neace as mentally disabled, says the whippings caused him "severe emotional distress."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, but Neace's attorney said he thinks it's worth up to $100,000.

"This guy cried in my office," attorney Eric Deters said. "People with a disability like this have an innocence about them and that innocence being shattered is really sad."

Deters said Neace, who is 56 and lives with his mother, wanted to volunteer at the grocery store because he's social and everyone in town knows him.

No police reports have been filed stemming from the incidents, but Deters said he forwarded information about the case to the county prosecutor's office to consider whether criminal charges are appropriate.

In January, the 53-year-old Kronenberger was charged with hitting a former 29-year-old tenant on the buttocks with a belt in a dispute over more than $2,000 in overdue rent.

A magistrate said he would dismiss an assault charge against Kronenberger in six months if he stayed away from the tenant and out of trouble, but that he would face conviction if he violates the order.

Kronenberger is a former chamber of commerce president and was named Waynesville's Citizen of the Year in 2006.

Kronenberger's home phone number does not accept messages and the number at his grocery store in Waynesville rang busy Friday.

His Dayton attorney, Lawrence Greger, declined to comment.

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