Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont
APPEAL FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No.
2015 CR 0171
Vincent Faris, Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney, for
R. Crousey, for defendant-appellant
1} Defendant-appellant, Henry Stanforth, appeals his
conviction and sentence in the Clermont County Court of
Common Pleas for multiple sexual offenses. For the reasons
detailed below, we affirm.
2} On March 26, 2015, Stanforth was indicted on one
count of importuning in violation of R.C. 2907.07, a
third-degree felony, and two counts of gross sexual
imposition in violation of R.C. 2907.05, both third-degree
felonies. The indictment alleged that between June 1, 2014
and November 23, 2014, Stanforth sexually abused
seven-year-old P.E. and eight-year-old A.E.
3} This matter proceeded to a jury trial. The state
presented the testimonies of the victims' mother
("Mother") and father, social workers, the victims
themselves, as well as other individuals, including a former
Stanforth victim who alleged a similar pattern of grooming
and exploitation when she was a child.
4} Mother testified that, prior to this incident,
she had a strong bond with Stanforth and his wife for many
years. Mother testified that the children also had a
relationship with Stanforth who was a grandfather-figure to
A.E. and P.E. The children would go fishing and four-wheeling
with Stanforth in his backyard and Stanforth would
occasionally give the0 children money and candy. The children
would also stay the night at the Stanforth residence.
5} In November of 2014, Mother testified that A.E.
began wetting the bed and P.E. would engage in similar
changes in behavior such as sleeping on the couch or turning
on the television in the middle of the night. P.E. also began
exhibiting self-esteem issues.
6} Mother testified that in January of 2015, as she
was making the bed, P.E. started telling her that someone had
been bullying her at school and later asked if they could
"speak privately." P.E. explained to Mother that
someone had been "acting funny" in front of her and
later stated that a person had peed in front of her and that
the person had touched her "down there and that he had
her touch him down there." Mother then spoke with A.E.,
who also confirmed that Stanforth had shown her his private
7} Mother contacted authorities and the children
were interviewed by social workers at the Mayerson Center.
During the interview, as corroborated by the testimony of the
social worker, A.E. stated that Stanforth had lifted her
shirt to look at her boobs and pulled down her pants to look
at her "thing" and that he had shown her his
"thing." An anatomical drawing confirmed that A.E.
described her vagina as her "thing" and
Stanforth's "thing" as his penis. In her
separate interview, P.E. stated that Stanforth had touched
her "thing" and had made her touch his
"thing." Again, P.E. confirmed the meaning of
8} The Clermont County Sheriffs Office assigned an
investigator to the case and Mother was asked to speak with
Stanforth about the allegations while wearing a hidden
recording device. Mother spoke with Stanforth on two
occasions in a nonconfrontational manner, while acting as a
concerned parent trying to understand the allegations. Mother
did not disclose that she had spoken with law enforcement.
During the conversations, Stanforth denied any wrongdoing,
but offered strange and sometimes conflicting accounts. For
example, Stanforth initially denied any inappropriate
conduct, but later admitted that the children had seen him
"peeing" in the woods. Later, Stanforth detailed an
account where A.E. had allegedly gotten injured while riding
a four-wheeler and she had pulled her pants and underwear
down to inspect an injury. During all of the recorded
conversations, Stanforth denied the allegations as presented
to him, but vacillated in some responses stating that he
would "make sure nothing happens again" and
ensuring that he would never be with the children alone.
Several times, Stanforth expressed concern that his wife was
"going to shit" or "kill him" if she
learned about the accusations.
9} P.E. testified at trial and identified Stanforth
as the perpetrator. P.E. explained that she would hang out
with Stanforth and ride four-wheelers at his house. P.E.
detailed the sexual incidents as occurring when she was alone
with Stanforth in his exercise room. During the summer of
2014, P.E. testified that Stanforth had touched her private
parts and he had her touch his private parts. P.E. stated
that this had occurred on more than one occasion and
Stanforth had told P.E. not to tell anyone.
10} A.E. also testified at trial and detailed the
sexual incident occurring during the summer of 2014. A.E.,
like her sister, stated that she would go over to
Stanforth's house and stay the night. Stanforth would go
fishing with her and give her money and candy. Finally, A.E.
detailed the encounter with Stanforth and testified that
Stanforth had shown her his private and told her not to tell
11} The final witness for the state was A.L. who was
identified as a former Stanforth victim brought to testify as
to past sexual abuse relevant to show plan, scheme, or
absence of mistake. A.L. corroborated the grooming account
and identified Stanforth's scheme for engaging in sexual
behavior with minor children. A.L. testified that when she
was 12 years old, A.L. had befriended her by taking her out
for fun activities like fishing and four-wheeling.
Eventually, Stanforth got A.L. alone and would begin the
abuse. A.L. testified that Stanforth would pull down her
pants and touch her vagina and would pull down his pants and
have her touch his penis. A.L. likewise testified that
Stanforth would give her money and would take her to the
store to buy candy. As with the victims in the present case,
A.L. stated that Stanforth told her not to tell anyone.
12} The jury found Stanforth guilty of all offenses
listed in the indictment. The trial court imposed a
three-year prison sentence for importuning and five-year
prison sentences for each count of gross sexual imposition.
The trial court ordered all sentences to be served
consecutively for a total stated prison term of 13 years.
Stanforth now appeals the decision of the trial court,
raising five assignments of error for review. For ease of
discussion, Stanforth's assignments of error will be
addressed out of order.
13} Assignment of Error No. 1:
14} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW BY
PERMITTING EVIDENCE OF "OTHER ACTS" AS SUBSTANTIVE
15} In his first assignment of error, Stanforth
argues the trial court erred and abused its discretion by
admitting other acts evidence through the testimony of A.L.
regarding his alleged prior sexual misconduct directed
towards her ...