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In Re: Stephanie K. Blough

August 19, 2010

IN RE: STEPHANIE K. BLOUGH STEPHANIE K. BLOUGH APPLICANT


The Ohio Judicial Center 65 South Front Street, Fourth Floor Columbus, OH 43215 614.387.9860 or 1.800.824.8263 www.cco.state.oh.us

Commissioners: Karl C. Kerschner, Presiding Thomas H. Bainbridge

OPINION OF A TWO-COMMISSIONER PANEL

{1}The appeal before this panel involves whether the applicant, Stephanie K. Blough, qualifies as a victim of criminally injurious conduct as defined in R.C. 2743.51(C)(1). The majority finds the applicant failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that she sustained personal injury as the result of conduct that posed a substantial threat of personal injury and is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or death. Therefore, the applicant's claim for an award of reparations is denied.

I. Procedural History

{2}On March 19, 2009, the applicant, Stephanie K. Blough, filed a compensation application as the result of an incident which occurred on June 8, 2008. On June 30, 2009, the Attorney General issued a finding of fact and decision denying the applicant's claim. On July 27, 2009, the applicant submitted a request for reconsideration. The applicant asserted she was the victim of stalking. In support of her contention she submitted the affidavit of her husband, Mark Blough. {3}On September 23, 2009, the Attorney General rendered a Final Decision finding no reason to modify its initial decision. On September 30, 2009, the applicant filed a notice of appeal from the September 23, 2009 Final Decision of the Attorney General. Therefore, a hearing was held before this panel of commissioners on December 3, 2009 at 10:30 A.M.

II. Applicant's Position

{4}The applicant asserts that she was a victim of menacing by stalking, a violation of R.C. 2903.211. She contends that the Attorney General erred in only considering the incident of June 8, 2008, but should have taken into consideration the prior activities and conduct of the offender. Furthermore, the applicant maintains that she received a five year Consent Agreement for a Civil Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Order on March 5, 2009 on the basis of the offender's criminal acts. The applicant argues this pattern of conduct caused her to believe she would suffer physical harm. Applicant urges this panel to rely on an Order of Protection issued by Magistrate Flowers in the Stark County Common Pleas Court.

{5}The applicant reasoned her sworn statements establish the criminal offense of Menacing by Stalking, a first-degree misdemeanor. The offense of Menacing by Stalking by its very nature qualifies as "criminally injurious conduct." The applicant points out that R.C. 2903.211(A)(1) defines menacing by stalking as:

{6}"No person by engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person."

{7}R.C. 2903.211(D)(1) defines pattern of conduct in pertinent as follows: "two or more actions or incidents closely related in time, whether or not there has been a prior conviction based on any of those actions or incidents."

{8}The applicant contends that the activities of the offender meet the definition of menacing by stalking. Furthermore, the applicant asserts that this panel should rely on the holdings in Shockey v. Shockey, 2008-Ohio-6797 and Rauser v. Ghaster, 2009-Ohio-4027, for direction in determining that all activities and conduct of the offender should be considered in determining whether a pattern of conduct exists. Therefore, the panel should overturn the Final Decision of the Attorney General and find that the applicant was a victim of criminally injurious conduct.

III. Attorney General's Position

{9}The Attorney General asserts that the applicant has failed to meet her burden of proof establishing that she was a victim of criminally injurious conduct by a preponderance of the evidence. The Attorney General investigated the incident by obtaining a Massillon Police Department report dated June 9, 2008. The report indicates that the applicant asserted the suspect, Jacob Hinzman, was in her yard on June 8, 2008. However, the suspect denied he was even in the city of Massillon on the day in question, and the applicant's husband could not confirm the suspect's presence since he did not "get a good look at him." After review of the incident the Massillon Police Department determined there was insufficient evidence to press charges of criminal trespass or menacing by stalking against the offender. The Attorney General rejects the applicant's argument concerning a pattern of conduct since only one unsubstantiated incident was reported to police. Moreover, the proffered affidavit was prepared by the applicant's husband, was never offered in court, and was not subject to cross-examination. Finally, the parties entered into a consent agreement, wherein the suspect did not admit to any allegations asserted by the applicant; in fact, he specifically denied the allegations. The state maintained a mutual restraining order is not evidence of criminally injurious conduct and the September 23, 2009 Final Decision of the

Attorney General should be affirmed.

IV. Witness Testimony and Argument

{10}The applicant's attorney, Dennis Yacobozzi, appeared and Assistant Attorney General Janean Weber appeared on behalf of the state of Ohio.

{11}The Attorney General called field investigator Christian Hallows to testify. Mr. Hallows related he was assigned to investigate the case at bar. He requested any and all police reports from the Massillon Police Department concerning incidents involving the applicant and Mr. Hinzman. He only received one report dated June 9, 2008. No arrests, charges, fines or imprisonments were imposed as the result of this incident. {12}Upon cross-examination the witness revealed he never spoke to the investigating police officer or the applicant or her husband. Mr. Hallows stated ...


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