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Aurora substitute teacher who had sex with boy, 16, denied early exit from prison

By Dave O'Brien | Staff Writer Published: March 5, 2013 4:00 AM
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Saying she had to send a "clear message" that sexual relationships between teachers and students will not be tolerated, a Portage County judge on Monday denied early release from prison for a former Aurora substitute teacher convicted of having sex with a 16-year-old boy.

Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman denied judicial release for Mary E. Schnell, 26, of Aurora, following a brief hearing in her courtroom. While praising Schnell for serving her fellow inmates through programs like literacy tutoring, Pittman told her she "took a part of the innocence" of both her victim, who was an Aurora High School student in spring 2011, and the community of Aurora by having sexual relations with him.

"I have to show that our courts will not tolerate this behavior from a man or a woman," Pittman said.

Seeking the early release, which was entirely up to the judge's discretion, Schnell told Pittman prison has given her "ample time to process the unruliness of my actions" and the "complete disregard for (the victim's) emotions."

She said she "inflicted trauma on an innocent person," was "immensely sorry" for the "malevolence of my past choices" and wants the chance to "remake myself as someone who makes good choices."

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Defense attorney George Keith said his client has already served 10 months of her 24-month sentence. He said she "immediately confessed" the illegal sexual relationship took place in May and June 2011 when confronted by Portage County Sheriff's Office investigators, who investigated the case along with Aurora and Streetsboro police.

Keith said Schnell has been trouble-free in prison with "no write-ups. In addition to writing a letter of remorse to the court, Schnell has been tutoring illiterate inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, will regularly see a psychologist, has a job waiting for her at an insurance agency upon her release and plans to re-enroll in college and live with her parents.

Assistant Portage County Prosecutor Steve Michniak said his office did not object to Schnell's release, and asked Pittman only to place her on intensive probation and suspend the remainder of her prison term so that she would be ordered to serve the complete term if she re-offended or violated probation.

Pittman sentenced Schnell to two years in prison on May 11, 2012, after accepting her guilty plea on a charge of sexual battery, a third-degree felony. By law, teachers in Ohio schools may not have sexual relationships with their students, even if those students consent or are of the age of consent in Ohio, which is 16.

Pittman ordered Schnell to permanently surrender her teaching license and have no contact with the victim in the case. Schnell also was labeled a Tier III sex offender, and must register her address with her local sheriff's office every 90 days for the rest of her life upon release from prison. Her neighbors and local schools, daycare facilities and other police agencies also may be notified of her release and location, according to the law.

Schnell's scheduled release date from her prison sentence is May 2014, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Led away to await a return to prison following the hearing, Schnell mouthed "I love you" to her parents and supporters seated in the gallery.

Follow Dave O'Brien on Twitter at @RCCrimeWatch

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or dobrien@recordpub.com

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anonymous Mar 6, 2013 10:04 AM

Prosecutors office a joke! Really let her out michniak? Head pros needs to get control over his fornicating employees and the guy that should've been indicted that runs gran jury! Time for a replacement! As well as many other positions in this county that are never challenged . Lol they wonder why crime is rampid in this county. Because its run by ?

anonymous Mar 5, 2013 7:54 PM

16 is the age of consent in Ohio. The laws are different for teachers because they are in a position of authority over students.

anonymous Mar 5, 2013 7:54 PM

16 is the age of consent in Ohio. The laws are different for teachers because they are in a position of authority over students.

anonymous Mar 5, 2013 7:38 PM

EQUAL JUSTICE? Blind Justice? SELECTIVE Justice? NO Justice? or a Mockery of Justice? You Decide.

anonymous Mar 5, 2013 6:53 PM

I thought 16 was the age of consent in ohio?

anonymous Mar 5, 2013 9:34 AM

Apparently the word cck-eyed is forbidden by the censor. Can't wait till we abandon the English language altogether.

anonymous Mar 5, 2013 9:27 AM

Redleg6, the justice meted out here appears to be ****-eyed to you for a very simple reason: it is ****-eyed!

anonymous Mar 5, 2013 9:05 AM

Quote from the above article...."I have to show that our courts will not tolerate this behavior from a man or a woman," Pittman said......Really?...Please read the following RC article...."Former Kent man who sexually assaulted girl, 13, sentenced to probation

labeled sex offender for incident in May"

By Dave O'Brien | Staff Writer Published: November 15, 2012 4:00AM

A former Kent man has been sentenced to nine months in the Portage County jail and been labeled a sex offender after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Kent girl in May.

Robert A. Ashworth, 34, now of Cuyahoga Falls, was sentenced Tuesday by Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman to 365 days in the Portage County jail, with work release privileges, along with four years on probation. With credit for 95 days already served in jail, Ashworth will serve about 270 days in jail.

Pittman also labeled Ashworth a Tier I sex offender, requiring him to register his address with his local sheriff's office once a year for the next 15 years.

She ordered him to have no contact with the victim or her family, who were his neighbors in Kent, and to stay at least 500 feet away from them at all times.

Ashworth also was fined $350 and ordered to get a mental health evaluation.

Initially charged with rape for an incident on May 27, Ashworth pleaded guilty to gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony. The incident, Assistant Portage County Prosecutor Steve Michniak said in court, was a result of Ashworth providing alcohol to the girl and her siblings at a bonfire at his house.

That led to sexual "touching" of the girl by Ashworth in his garage, Michniak said. The rape charge would have been hard to prove because investigators could not determine if there was any penetration because of the victim's level of intoxication, he said.

In a victim impact statement, the girl's mother told Pittman that her daughter "could not attend (the hearing) because she can not mentally face Robert Ashworth."

"She has nightmares, and our neighborhood is in turmoil," the mother said, asking the judge to give Ashworth the maximum sentence -- 18 months in prison, under Ohio law -- because of the "pain my 13-year-old daughter goes through every day."

Pittman told the woman that instead of prison, local sanctions including jail and probation will "allow me to keep my thumb on (Ashworth)."

Ashworth told Pittman he is "extremely sorry for all the grief this has caused all the parties."

Pittman told Ashworth that if he violates his probation, he will not be given a second chance.

"Don't worry about tougher sanctions," in the case of a probation violation, she said. "You are going to prison."

Follow Dave O'Brien on Twitter at @RCCrimeWatch

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or dobrien@recordpub.com.......Is there something wrong here, or is it just me???

anonymous Mar 5, 2013 7:49 AM

I'd hit that!!