The Indian Lake Local Schools Superintendent has been arrested and accused of sexually abusing a then 10-year-old girl.
Patrick O’Donnell, 52, who has been the Indian Lake superintendent for about seven years, was arrested Monday by Washington Twp. police and charged with gross sexual imposition. Washington Twp. Police Chief Rick Core said O’Donnell faces the charge for an alleged incident that occurred three years ago.
“At this point we are only talking about one victim,” Core said. “I don’t believe that there were any problems at the school. This would all have been done outside of school.”
Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart also said the accusations didn’t involve any students in the district O’Donnell oversees.
The Indian Lake Board of Education voted Monday to put O’Donnell on paid administrative leave. It included a directive that he stay at his home during regular work hours and that he stay off school property.
“Due to the short notice, the board has not yet had time to provide the due process required by law to place the superintendent on unpaid leave,” a statement from the school board read.
School Board President Gabe Wickline read the statement for media after the meeting but didn’t take any questions. The board appointed Indian Lake High School Principal Robert Underwood as interim superintendent.
Details surrounding the incident weren’t released Monday and Core declined to comment on the relationship between the suspect and the now-13-year-old girl. O’Donnell was booked into the Logan County Jail about 1:30 p.m. Monday, records show.
“The investigation is still in the progression phase,” Core said. “At this time there is still a lot of information that we need to obtain.”
Stewart, the Logan County prosecutor, said his office is exploring how they plan to charge O’Donnell. O’Donnell is expected to appear in court on Tuesday morning.
Authorities began investigating O’Donnell last Monday, Core said.
“What initially started the investigation was the victim’s parent contacted the Logan County Children Services and they by procedure contacted law enforcement,” he said.
It’s not unusual for a victim to take a while before reporting being abused, Core said.
“Everyone is different and everybody does things on their own timeline and I think that is the situation here,” he said.
The Washington Twp. Police Department works closely with the school, Core said, but believed they should investigate the allegations. Indian Lake has a little more than 1,560 students who attend the district and the Washington Twp. Police Department provides security at the school and during sporting events.
Washington Twp. is small and quiet, he said, with only about 3,900 people living here.
“Everybody knows everybody and of course something of this nature will spread throughout the community pretty quickly,” Core said.
He said his law enforcement experience has trained him to expect anything on the job.
“After 28 years in this business I can honestly say I am not surprised by anything anymore,” Core said.
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