Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Lake
Appeal from the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Case No.
2015 CR 000634.
Charles E. Coulson, Lake County Prosecutor, and Karen A.
Sheppert, Paul E. Kaplan, and Taylir K Linden, Assistant
Prosecutors, For Plaintiff-Appellee.
J. Gwirtz, Mandy Gwirtz, LLC, For Defendant-Appellant.
R. WRIGHT, J.
Appellant, James D. Craig, appeals his conviction on eight
felony sexual offenses, including rape and gross sexual
imposition. Appellant challenges the sufficiency and manifest
weight of the evidence, the trial court's failure to
sever three charges, and two evidentiary rulings. We affirm.
Appellant and Jasmine Cleckner married in May 2003. Within a
year, they had a daughter, J.C. Shortly afterward, they moved
to a home in Leroy Township, Lake County, Ohio. Over the next
five years they had two sons.
Through the years, Jasmine obtained a degree and had a
full-time job working with computers. At some point,
appellant returned to school to obtain his degree. Since he
had more flexibility, he often cared for the children.
The Leroy Township home has three stories, three bedrooms and
two bathrooms. Until May 2014, the upstairs bedroom was
solely occupied by appellant's father. J.C. shared a
bedroom with her two brothers and appellant and Jasmine
shared the third bedroom.
Jasmine has two sisters, Lea Mitchell and Adrianna
DiDomenico, both West Virginia residents. In July 2015, Lea
visited Jasmine and their father, Carl Cleckner in Leroy. At
the conclusion of the visit, J.C. traveled with Lea to West
Virginia to spend a few weeks with her maternal grandmother,
Jeanette DiDomenico. During the car ride, Lea observed J.C,
then eleven, behaving differently than the last time she saw
her. Instead of being talkative, J.C. was withdrawn and wore
headphones throughout the trip.
At the time of this visit, Adrianna DiDomenico, 18 years old,
resided with her mother, Jeanette, and father, William
DiDomenico. Sensing issues, Jeanette asked Adrianna to talk
with J.C. When Adrianna initially saw J.C, Adrianna sensed
that J.C. had recently been crying and was upset. She
persuaded J.C. to talk with her on the front porch. J.C.
became even more upset and cried uncontrollably. J.C.
ultimately told Adrianna that appellant had sexually molested
her multiple times during the last eighteen months and
described the nature of the acts.
After J.C. was calmer, Adrianna had her write the details.
Jeanette then contacted the Child Advocacy Center in
Charleston, West Virginia, and arranged for the center's
director, Maureen Runyon, to interview J.C. During the
recorded interview, J.C. again gave a detailed description of
appellant's sexual abuse.
According to J.C, the behavior began one night when she awoke
to appellant performing cunnilingus on her. Over the
following weeks, appellant repeated this act numerous times
in multiple locations in their Leroy home. J.C. further
asserted that he tried to entice her into willing
participation by promising her "benefits." For
example, he would allow her additional time on the internet
without parental controls. In time, appellant engaged in
additional sexual acts: (1) rubbing his finger or a vibrator
on her vaginal area; (2) inserting his finger into her
vagina; (3) inserting the vibrator into her vagina; (4)
forcing her to masturbate him; and (5) on one occasion,
appellant placed his genitals on her lips, with J.C. refusing
to open her mouth. J.C. further said that appellant had her
"dress up" in her mother's lingerie and
panties, pose provocatively, and that he photographed her
using a red digital camera.
A few days after the interview, J.C. underwent a physical
examination by a medical doctor. She had no physical signs of
The information gathered was conveyed to the Lake County
Sheriff's Department and used to obtain a search warrant
for the Leroy residence. In executing the warrant following
appellant's arrest, the authorities failed to locate
digital photographs of J.C. However, they seized a red
digital camera and the described vibrator. The authorities
also found two computer disks containing 749
photographs/videos of child pornography, with many of
pictures featuring girls appearing to be the same age as
J.C., locked in a gun cabinet that Jasmine gifted to
Within three months of appellant's arrest, he was
indicted on eleven counts including: three counts of rape, a
first-degree felony under R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b); three counts
of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony under R.C.
2907.05(A)(4); two counts of importuning, a third-degree
felony under R.C. 2907.07(A) & (C)(1); one count of
pandering obscenity involving a minor, a second-degree felony
under R.C. 2907.321(A)(1); one count of pandering obscenity
involving a minor, a fourth-degree felony under R.C.
2907.321(A)(5); and one count of pandering sexually oriented
matter involving a minor, a second-degree felony under R.C.
In writing, J.C. claimed that appellant required her to view
internet pornography on various devices and to draw
pornographic images. During its investigation, the sheriffs
department retained J.C.'s Kindle to review her Internet
history. To access the Kindle, Jasmine asked J.C. to provide
her the password. J.C. did so, but recanted her claim that
appellant forced her to view pornographic material and
acknowledged that she viewed the material herself out of
curiosity. J.C. told her mother that she lied out of
embarrassment. She also admitted that she lied about being
required to draw pornographic images.
While the charges were pending, Jasmine continued to search
and cleanout the Leroy home. In the process, she found a
small baggy containing 36 pubic hairs in appellant's
baseball card collection stored in the master bedroom closet
and a garbage bag in the garage attic containing multiple
pairs of toddler size 3T underwear belonging to J.C., along
with a t-shirt belonging to appellant. Jasmine testified that
J.C. wore 3T until the fourth grade, and that she normally
discarded J.C.'s underwear when she outgrew them.
A six-day jury trial went forward in August 2016. In addition
to J.C.'s testimony, the state called Adrianna to testify
regarding the statements J.C. made to her during J.C.'s
initial disclosure. The state also presented considerable
evidence as to changes in J.C.'s personality both before
and after her disclosure. Appellant rested without
presentation of evidence. Appellant was found not guilty of
the first of the two importuning counts and two of the three
pandering counts, but guilty of the remaining eight counts.
The trial court ordered an aggregate prison term of 91.5
years to life: three terms of twenty-five years to life on
the rape counts; three five-year terms on the gross sexual
imposition counts; and eighteen months on the pandering
count, all time to be served ...