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In re Chrosniak's

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 31, 2017

IN RE: RICHARD T. CHROSNIAK'S PETITION FOR RELIEF FROM DISABILITY APPELLANT

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-16-863810

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Michael C. Asseff

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Mary McGrath Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

          BEFORE: E.T. Gallagher, J., McCormack, P.J., and S. Gallagher, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          EILEEN T. GALLAGHER, J.:

         {¶1} This cause came to be heard on the accelerated calendar pursuant to App.R. 11.1 and Loc.R. 11.1. Petitioner-appellant, Richard T. Chrosniak, appeals from the trial court's judgment denying his application for relief from weapons disability. He raises the following assignment of error for our review:

1. The trial court erred and abused its discretion in denying appellant's application for relief from weapons disability under R.C. 2923.14.

         {¶2} After careful review of the record and relevant case law, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         I. Procedural and Factual History

         {¶3} In September 1990, Chrosniak was convicted of sexual battery in violation of R.C. 2923.14, a felony of the third degree, in Summit C.P. No. CR-1990-05-0897. The trial court imposed a suspended one-year term of imprisonment and placed Chrosniak on a one-year period of community control. Relevant to Chrosniak's eligibility for relief from his weapons disability, Chrosniak was not required to register as a sex offender.

         {¶4} In May 2016, Chrosniak filed an application for relief from weapons disability. The state opposed the application, and a hearing was held in November 2016. At the hearing, Chrosniak provided testimony concerning the particulars of his 1990 felony conviction. Chrosniak testified that in 1985, he was intoxicated, naked, and watching pornography before he "passed out on the couch." When Chrosniak woke up, he discovered his five-year old son in the room "without clothes and looking at the pornography." Chrosniak testified that he grabbed his son and "spanked his butt until it was black and blue." In 1989, Chrosniak began attending Alcoholics Anonymous programs. At some point, Chrosniak discussed the incident involving his son with a counselor. Based on the recommendation of his counselor, Chrosniak notified children's services about the incident. Following an investigation by children's services and the Twinsburg Police Department, Chrosniak was indicted by the Summit County Grand Jury for rape of a child under the age of 13. Ultimately, Chrosniak pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of sexual battery in violation of R.C. 2907.03.

         {¶5} In addition, Chrosniak provided testimony regarding the extent of his law-abiding life following his discharge in December 1991. He stated that he has not been charged or convicted with any offense since the time of his discharge and is gainfully employed as a purchasing and procurement specialist for a Cleveland-area trucking company. Chrosniak has been actively involved in his church, has facilitated an addiction recovery group, and currently provides pastoral counseling for members of his church. Chrosniak further stated that he has earned a masters degree in pastoral counseling and care from Ashland Theological Seminary and has been sober since 1989.

         {¶6} Chrosniak testified that he sought relief from his weapons disability, in part, so that he could participate in recreational and hunting activities with his friends and family. He stated that he enjoyed target shooting and hunting prior to his felony conviction and that such activities were "part of [his] family heritage."

          {¶7} During his cross-examination, the state questioned Chrosniak about the specifics of the incident involving his son. Chrosniak testified that he did not know why he "got charged the way [he] did, " but admitted that his indictment originated because he told children's services that he and his sons genitals touched during the spanking because they were both naked. At the conclusion of the hearing, the state maintained its opposition to Chrosniak's application, stating "it is the state's position that one convicted of a sexual offense under these circumstances simply ha[s] not established a reason why the disability should be lifted."

         {¶8} In January 2017, the trial court issued a journal entry, denying Chrosniak's application for relief from weapons ...


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