Prosecutor Kevin Rings testifies on his own behalf
Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings was a surprise witness Thursday, taking the stand to begin the fourth day of his trial for coercion and sexual imposition charges. The day ended with closing arguments and the jury beginning deliberation. Jurors spent approximately an hour picking a foreman then recessed until this morning to continue deliberation.
Rings, 56, was charged with two misdemeanors after he allegedly coerced Amy Davis, 33, of Belpre, who was both a defendant in a drug case he was handling and a victim in another case where she was allegedly kidnapped and assaulted, to have sexual contact with him. He is also accused of kissing and touching Davis inappropriately in his office on July 6, 2017.
The prosecution rested its case on Wednesday after calling a total of 12 witnesses over the first three days of the trial. The defense started its case on Wednesday afternoon, calling two of their three total witnesses. Rings took the stand Thursday morning.
His testimony was the only evidence entered on Thursday, but took almost five hours to complete. It was followed by closing arguments before the jury were sent to deliberate the case around 4 p.m.
Dennis McNamara, Rings’ defense counsel, began the questioning of his client by revealing the lack of a criminal record for Rings. Rings then told the court about how important Davis’ help was in putting her assaulter and kidnappers in jail.
“Without her cooperation I don’t know how we could have prosecuted,” he said.
Rings said the kidnapping case was the reason he initially contacted Davis by phone.
He said after texting her for the first 20 to 30 minutes he felt he had built a solid foundation for communication in order to get Davis to help with the case.
“I had accomplished what I hoped to accomplish,” he said.
But after the initial correspondence, Rings said the conversation changed in nature.
“It became flirtatious, if not overtly sexual,” he said.
Rings said he began mirroring Davis’ texts to keep her interested in testifying in the kidnapping case. Rings then read a handful of texts that showed he was asking for a letter from Davis written by one of the defendants in the case. He then denied that any of the several hundred texts between June 30 and July 6, 2017 were trying to coerce Davis to do anything.
Questioning from McNamara then turned to the alleged sexual imposition that occurred on July 6, 2017. Davis seen on security camera footage of the prosecutor’s office on that day, leaving Rings’ office with her shirt unbuttoned and hair mussed.
“(July 6) was clear and warm… it was in the 70s or 80s,” he said, implying Davis unbuttoned her shirt due to the heat.
Rings said he did not unbutton Davis’ shirt and didn’t know how it became that way. Rings stated Davis was running her fingers through her hair walking into his office, causing it to become unkempt.
Rings said Davis’ attorney, Eric Fowler was scheduled to attend the meeting but was unable to because he was detained on business in another county. He said after leaving his office door ajar, he sat behind his desk while Davis sat in a chair in front of it for the duration of the almost hour long meeting until they both left.
Rings said after they left the meeting, he discovered a picture of Davis with her alleged kidnapper who was incarcerated, in the visitation area of the Washington County Jail on social media. Rings said that convinced him Davis wouldn’t help him with his kidnapping case and he ended correspondence with her.
“I blocked Amy Davis from my phone,” he said.
Upon cross examination from Ohio Attorney General Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Reed, a discrepancy was revealed about statements made by Rings during the trial compared to an interview by the Ohio Bureau of Investigation during August 2017. During the questioning from BCI, Rings stated that his office door was wide open but in earlier testimony he said the door was ajar.
“Are wide open and ajar the same to you?” asked Reed.
“Yes,” said Rings.
Reed continued to attack Rings’ credibility by questioning his motives when texting Heather Clark. Clark testified on Wednesday that she and Rings began texting in late 2016 in regards to her receiving help from him with a divorce she was going through. She also asked Rings for help with an OVI case that her sister was involved in. After a few texts back and forth with Clark about her sister, Reed said the next text demonstrated Rings’ true character.
“So at least you can send me a picture,” the text said.
Reed also questioned Rings about why he began texting Davis in the first place.
“I was trying to develop a relationship so she would testify,” he said.
Reed informed Rings that a subpoena would have done the same job as the sexually charged texts.
Reed then attempted to show a pattern of Rings’ behavior in his office.
“Have you ever had sexual activity in your office?” Reed asked.
“Yes,” said Rings after a long pause.
“With someone other than your wife?” she continued.
“Yes,” he said.
“Did you know that 43,000 emails were downloaded from your (work computer)?” she asked.
“No,” said Rings.
Reed showed Rings multiple emails from his computer that were sexually explicit in regards to two other women between 2011 and 2017.
Reed asked Rings to read some of the emails to the court to which Rings said he preferred not to.
“Are you uncomfortable reading them out loud?” she asked.
“Yes,” Rings replied.
Ohio Attorney General Prosecutor Christian Sticken began closing arguments by saying Rings had assaulted Davis.
“He touched her breasts…he kissed her and ran his fingers through her hair,” he said. “Mr. Rings put this whole plan in motion.”
“Send me a picture, testify, meet me. Basically have sex with me,” Sticken said.
Sticken closed by giving praise to both Davis and Clark.
“Heather and Amy had nothing to gain from coming forward, except the truth,” he said. “We ask you return a guilty verdict.”
McNamara started his closing arguments making the point that the case wasn’t about all the other women Rings has had contact with.
“This case is about two people,” he said. “The only two people involved, Rings and Davis.”
McNamara brought up Davis’ mother-in-law’s testimony on Wednesday.
“She said Amy was going to fix both her felony case and maybe make some money,” he said.
He then began to try and dismantle Davis’ credibility by talking about her addiction to opioids.
“She said she had done a lot of drugs at that time,” he said.
“Clark got flirty with him, he got flirty back,” he said.
He then asked why Davis would stay an extra half hour in the office after the alleged assault and then text Rings later that day about partying in a casino with strippers.
“Would you loan money to Amy Davis?” he asked jurors. “Would you trust her any way at all in your personal affairs?”
Jury deliberation continues today at 8:45 a.m.
Rings faces up to 150 days in jail and a $1,250 fine.