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Trial of Washington County prosecutor to start Monday

Times file photo Attorney Dennis McNamara speaks for Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings during a motions hearing in September.

The trial of Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings is slated to start on Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

Rings was charged on June 7, 2018 with a second-degree misdemeanor count of coercion and a third-degree misdemeanor count of sexual imposition and is accused of trying to receive sexual favors from a woman whom he was prosecuting on drug charges in July of 2017. Rings has continued working as the county’s prosecutor as the case has moved through the legal system.

Jury selection for the case begins at 9 a.m. on Monday and Rings’ attorney, Dennis McNamara, said he feels finding the right jury among the 100 people pooled shouldn’t take that long.

“We should have a jury selected by noon,” he said.

The trial is scheduled to last four days in Courtroom B of the Washington County Courthouse.

McNamara said no crime was committed and the prosecution’s case isn’t on solid ground.

“What, that men are pigs generally? My wife told me that 35 years ago,” he said.

McNamara said he felt confident about being able to get the true story out.

“We’ll show the real evidence of what happened,” he said.

Ohio Attorney General’s Office Prosecutor Christian Stickan and Ohio Attorney General’s Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Reed are prosecuting Rings’ case and didn’t return requests for comment.

Rings also didn’t return a call for comment Thursday.

According to state prosecutor’s documents, Rings allegedly used his power as a prosecuting attorney in order to gain sexual favors from Vienna resident Amy Davis, who at the time was 32. Rings was prosecuting Davis on drug charges. Davis was also the victim in a kidnapping case at the same time.

In a bill of particulars filed by the state in July 2018, prosecutors said that on June 30, 2017, Rings went in search of the victim’s attorney in order to gain her personal contact information. Once it was obtained, prosecutors allege hundreds of texts were exchanged between the pair from June 30 to July 6, 2017.

“Hey there pretty lady send me something,” was one of the first texts said to be sent by Rings on June 30, according to the bill of particulars. Prosecutors claim Davis wasn’t receptive enough and Rings put forth a text that they say supports the coercion charge.

“Seems like you don’t really want to talk to me (neutral face emoji). I guess we’ll talk about all of this in court someday soon. Enjoy the fireworks,” a text said to be from Rings read on July 4, 2017.

According to the bill of particulars, the prosecution says Davis understood the meaning of the text as a threat and continued corresponding with Rings to stay in good favor with him. Prosecutors also say in the bill that on July 6, 2017, at 11:38 a.m., video evidence shows Davis entering the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office. The bill states that Davis is clearly seen walking into the office with a white shirt buttoned up before being escorted to Rings’ personal office. When she exited his work area a short time later, Davis is seen with her shirt completely unbuttoned with a black undershirt showing and her hair disheveled.

The bill also states that when Davis entered the car of an unnamed man that gave her a ride to the courthouse, he noticed her makeup smeared onto her shirt and quoted Davis as saying that she was “molested at the prosecutor’s office.”

The prosecution also provided the court with a statement of facts that tried to show that Rings’ behavior was a long-time trend by giving another instance where Rings allegedly used his professional influence to gain sexual favor.

On Dec. 21, 2016, a woman identified as Jane Doe 2 was at the courthouse ending her marriage after her husband allegedly abandoned her. Doe stated in the document that she knew Rings previously, but after seeing him in the courthouse, he began sending her sexually based texts and requesting photos of her. She says in the statement that Rings promised her that he would talk to the magistrate about her domestic case. Doe claimed that she felt that her next meeting with the magistrate was more in her favor than it had previously been.

Rings faces up to 150 days in jail and up to a $1,250 fine for the charges. He pleaded not guilty on June 7.

Even though Rings is an elected official and his employment is determined by the voters, actions can still be taken to have him disbarred regardless of the criminal case, according to the Ohio State Bar Association. According to Maggie Ostrowski, director of media and public relations for the OSBA, a grievance must be filed through one of the association’s 31 local bar associations that have Certified Grievance Committees. The committee decides whether to pursue penalties or to dismiss the grievance.

Rings became the interim prosecutor on June 30, 2015, before being elected to Washington County Prosecutor in November of 2015.

At a glance

•Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings’ trial on a second-degree misdemeanor count of coercion and a third-degree misdemeanor count of sexual imposition begins Monday at 9 a.m. at the Washington County Courthouse.

•The charges stem from Rings allegedly trying to receive sexual favors from a woman whom he was prosecuting on drug charges in July of 2017.

•Rings faces up to 150 days in jail and up to a $1,250 fine if found guilty.

Source: Times research.

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