Cole said, "If convicted, you could actually be looking at a commitment to a state institution as well as register in some capacity with the sexual offender registry."
The prosecutor's office since 2009 has created a diversion program for cases such as the Vandalia Butler case. The program is available to defendants “unless there is some element of maliciousness or extortion, some type of threat of violence,” he said.
Cole said there have been since 2009 nearly 270 referrals to the program and 260 have successfully completed the program.
"What this allows is both the court and the juvenile to avoid an official record but there's very stringent requirements," he said.
The defendant must admit guilt, give up their cell phone for six months and not use or possess a phone for the duration of the program.
Pending in the state legislature is Ohio House Bill 355, which would require all juvenile courts to offer diversion programs.
RELATED: Ohio House mulled law to set up diversion programs
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