Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula
Appeal from the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, Case
No. 2015 CR 136.
Nicholas A. Iarocci, Ashtabula County Prosecutor, and Shelley
M. Pratt, Assistant Prosecutor, Ashtabula County Courthouse,
Matthew C. Bangerter, (For Defendant-Appellant).
R. WRIGHT, J.
Appellant, Rejeana Moss, appeals the trial court's
imposition of a ten-year prison term on five third-degree
felonies as excessive. She contends that the term must be
reduced because the trial court did not consider statutory
sentencing factors favorable to her. We affirm.
During the relevant time period, appellant and her husband,
co-defendant David Moss, lived in a single-family dwelling in
Dorset Township, Ashtabula County, Ohio. In July 2001, the
couple became foster parents to R.M. Two years later, they
adopted him. R.M. continued to reside with the Mosses until
he turned eighteen years old in November 2009.
In 2003, the couple became foster parents to three other
children, R.D.M., A.E.M., and S.J.M, all biologically
related. The oldest of the three, R.D.M. a ten-year-old boy,
is developmentally disabled. The other two, both girls, were
six and three when they first started living with the Mosses.
Like R.M., the Mosses adopted these children.
Initially, the three related children attended public
schools. At some point prior to 2011, though, the Mosses
withdrew the children from public schools and educated them
On August 26, 2013, the two girls surreptitiously left the
home and took the Mosses' vehicle without their
knowledge. Neither child had a driver's license and they
were quickly involved in a minor traffic accident. The girls
were charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in
juvenile court. As part of the accident investigation, the
girls made statements to authorities concerning how they were
treated by the Mosses. The statements led to a separate
investigation into the condition of the Mosses' residence
by the county sheriff's department and children's
services. After investigation, the authorities removed all
three of the related children from the Mosses' custody.
The investigation revealed that the three children were
primarily living in two bedrooms, the girls in one and the
boy in the other. Each bedroom had a padlock allowing the
children to be locked inside. The windows in the girls'
bedroom were covered with plywood, and the curtains over the
only window in the boy's bedroom were stapled to the
woodwork. The children could not look out their windows and
could not leave their rooms unless someone unlocked the
doors. Furthermore, the only furniture was one bed for each
child. All other bedroom furniture and the children's
clothes were in the hallway outside the bedrooms. In
addition, the girls' bedroom had two buckets and toilet
paper, while the boy's bedroom contained a metal can.
According to the girls, during the two-year period from 2011
through their removal from the Mosses' home, all three
children were locked in their bedrooms for at least twenty
hours every day. While inside the bedrooms, they were not
allowed to have anything, including reading material, and
wore only minimal clothing, such as underwear. The children
were permitted to leave their bedrooms three to four times a
day to eat or use the bathroom.
The children were regularly subjected to corporal punishment,
usually by means of a homemade paddle. The punishment was
normally meted out by David Moss for errors in the
children's homework. According to the girls, the paddle
was used so often and harshly that it had red blood stains.
Each girl asserted that appellant physically abused her on
multiple occasions. According to A.E.M. appellant once choked
her and hit her head so hard against the wall that her teeth
split her lip.
Eighteen months after removal of the three children, the
county grand jury issued a nine-count indictment against
appellant, charging her with three counts of endangering
children, three counts of kidnapping, and three counts of
felonious assault. Three months later, the grand jury
returned a second indictment, charging her with one
additional count of each offense.
Appellant ultimately pleaded guilty to four counts of
endangering children, third-degree felonies under R.C.
2919.22(B)(2), and one amended count of attempted felony
assault, a third-degree felony under R.C. 2923.02(A) and
2903.11(A)(1). The state dismissed the remaining seven
charges. The trial court found appellant guilty on all ...