The married Logan County superintendents charged in connection with allegations of child sexual abuse appeared together in court this week where a trial date was set and plea negotiations were discussed.
Patrick O’Donnell, superintendent of Indian Lake Schools, faces felony charges that include rape-child under 13, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition. He’s pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Investigators have said the alleged rapes occurred over a three-year-period and involve a single child who’s now 13. That child isn’t a student at Indian Lake and was known to both O’Donnells, according to police.
The Indian Lake school board has placed Patrick O’Donnell on unpaid leave and started the process to fire him. Patrick O’Donnell has appealed the district taking that step toward termination.
The district is waiting for a recommendation from an Ohio Board of Education official who listened to a termination hearing earlier this year, a school spokeswoman said.
His wife, Heather O’Donnell, who is superintendent at Midwest Regional Educational Services, faces child endangering charges. Washington Twp. Police Chief Rick Core said in an affidavit that the girl told Heather O’Donnell about the alleged abuse and she didn’t report it to authorities. Heather O’Donnell has pleaded not guilty.
The case against Patrick O’Donnell had a trial date set for late November but that was pushed back to early December because of a court scheduling conflict. Defense Attorney Samuel Shamansky, who represents both Patrick and Heather O’Donnell, said during the hearing on Monday that his clients want the cases resolved as soon as possible but they understood the need to postpone the jury trial.
Patrick O’Donnell’s trial is set to start Dec. 6. His wife’s trial is set to start Dec. 13. Both declined to comment on the charges when approached by a Springfield News-Sun reporter.
Prosecutors filed a motion to combine the trials but Logan County Judge William Goslee said he wasn’t sure if that was a good idea.
Shamansky said in court he hadn’t had time to review that idea. Goslee asked Shamansky to think the proposal over and get back with him.
Also during the hearing, Goslee made public possible deals attorneys have discussed to ensure the defendants knew what was on the table. Prosecutors have offered Patrick O’Donnell a deal that would require him to plead to a second-degree felony that would carry two to eight years in prison.
If he goes to trial and is convicted, Patrick O’Donnell faces up to 11 years to life in prison. The offer hadn’t been accepted yet but remains on the table, prosecutors said in court.
Prosecutors said they haven’t offered Heather O’Donnell a plea deal because the defense hadn’t sought one. Shamansky said he would like to at least entertain an offer before her case goes to trial.
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