Springfield man cleared of raping two girls, found guilty of child porn

A Springfield man was cleared of allegations accusing him of raping children but was convicted on 48 counts of child pornography.

Oliver Sanders III, 26, and his defense team were able to convince 12 jury members this week that he did not rape two girls under the age of 13. Sanders was originally charged with 61 counts — 10 of which accused him of raping or molesting the two girls and 51 accusing him of downloading and possessing child pornography on his phone.

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Sanders was accused of raping the girls over the last five years. In one incident, prosecutors say Sanders showed a girl child pornography on his phone and told the girl what was depicted on the phone was “normal.” Springfield police investigators said Sanders voluntarily handed his phone over for inspection by law enforcement and they found numerous videos and images of child porn.

The jury indicated that they either didn’t believe or didn’t have enough proof to convict Sanders of the rape, clearing him of all charges in relation to the girls. However, they also didn’t buy the defenses’ argument that photos and videos of child pornography found by law enforcement on Sanders’ phone were placed there by either a hacker or someone else.

The jury took about 10 hours of deliberation to reach their verdict. They received the case at around noon on Wednesday.

Clark County Prosecutor Dan Driscoll said that though Sanders was not convicted of rape, he is proud of the child victims for stepping up and testifying.

“The convictions that we got are in large part because of their efforts,” Driscoll said. “I think that is one thing that you got to look at. The jury just found that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the rapes. But this got started because they said they were shown child pornography and that led us to search his phone and eventually the conviction. It takes a tremendous amount of bravery to do what they did. I am very happy with the convictions that we did get.”

Defense attorney Jeffrey Hunter declined to comment after the verdict was read Thursday afternoon.

The case wrapped up Wednesday afternoon in Clark County Common Pleas Judge Douglas Rastatter’s courtroom with prosecutors alleging Sanders was guilty. Hunter told the jury that prosecutors “fumbled the football” and failed to prove his client’s guilt.

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Throughout the trial, prosecutors submitted evidence they said proves Sanders sexually assaulted the girls and knew about the child pornography on his phone.

The 61 felony counts Sanders faced included nine counts of rape, 38 counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, seven counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, six counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor and one count of gross sexual imposition.

Sanders took the stand Wednesday morning and denied any wrongdoing. He said he never sexually assaulted the girls. Instead, he said he was away for U.S. Army basic training for much of the time period he is alleged to have committed the crimes and said that the allegations stem from money owed to his family by the family of the girls.

He also told the jury that he brought the phone secondhand off Amazon and that the pictures and videos law enforcement found must have been already downloaded before he purchased it.

Sanders will be sentenced by Rastatter on Oct. 30.

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