Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
Appeal from Common Pleas Court T.C. NO. 15-CR-3053
HEATHER N. JANS, Atty. Reg. Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee
PAUL RION, Atty. and NICOLE RUTTER-HIRTH, Atty. Attorneys for
1} Defendant-appellant John K. Stephens appeals his
conviction and sentence for three counts of rape (less than
ten years of age), in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b), all
felonies of the first degree. Stephens filed a timely notice
of appeal with this Court on August 25, 2016.
2} After violating the terms of his probation in
Case No. 2013 CR 3550, Stephens was sentenced to prison for
thirty-six months. On May 7, 2015, the trial court issued an
entry granting Stephens judicial release. One of the
conditions of his judicial release required Stephens to
become a resident of Talbert House, a locked-down and secured
rehabilitation facility where defendants receive sex offender
therapy. Stephens was required to complete the sexual
offender program at Talbert House. If he failed to complete
the program, Stephens would be sent back to prison.
3} Although the record is unclear regarding the
specific dates, Stephens was allowed to participate in the
sexual offender program at Talbert House once before in 2013
or 2014 in Case No. 2013 CR 3550, but was discharged before
completing the program because of a probation violation.
Thus, we note that the instant case represents the second
time that the trial court permitted Stephens to participate
in the sexual offender program at Talbert House.
4} Upon arriving at Talbert House on May 14, 2015,
Stephens was processed as an incoming resident by
administrative specialist Patricia Stanley. Stanley testified
that she was familiar with Stephens because he had been
placed in the program once before and indicated that this was
the second occasion upon which she had "briefed him for
intake." Part of the briefing packet Stanley provided
Stephens with included State's Exhibit I, the
confidentiality form, which stated in pertinent part:
Federal Laws and Regulations do not protect information about
suspected child abuse or neglect from being reported under
State Law to appropriate State or Local authorities.
Stanley explained and reviewed the confidentiality form with
Stephens, she watched him sign the document.
5} Once admitted, Stephens was required to
participate in sexual offender treatment at Talbert House. To
facilitate his treatment, Stephens was assigned to a small
group which met three times a week for two hours each
session. Stephens' group was moderated by Sherry
Peterson, a clinical service provider for the sexual
offenders at Talbert House in 2015. When beginning treatment,
Peterson testified that she always initially reviews the
confidentiality form with her "clients" and
explains that she is a mandated reporter with a legal duty to
warn, and if anyone tells her that they have caused harm to a
child or elder, is going to cause harm to a child or elder,
or cause harm to themselves, she has a duty to report that
information to the police. Peterson further testified that
due to the serious nature of their charges, she always
specifically explains to sexual offender groups that "if
they tell me that they've committed an [previously
undisclosed] offense on a child or elder"
confidentiality may be breached.
6} Stephens had been placed in sexual offender
treatment for an offense involving only one victim. However,
on June 2, 2015, as part of a work assignment for
Peterson's group treatment class, Stephens turned in five
index cards, each containing the initials of a different
victim. Peterson testified that she was surprised by
Stephens' actions because in her experience, she never
had a "client" admit to previously undisclosed
victims as part of the assignment. Peterson further testified
that she assumed Stephens would only want to discuss the
victim and offense for which he had been convicted. Peterson
testified that during the group meetings she tries not to
guide her "clients" regarding what they want to
talk about. In fact, Peterson testified that she never told
Stephens that he had to provide any names or initials as part
of the assignment. After Stephens turned in the index cards,
the only question Peterson asked him was "do the people
know about these right here?" to which Stephens
responded in the negative. Peterson asked no additional
questions regarding the previously undisclosed victims during
the group meeting. We note that Peterson testified that there
was only one other "client" for the group meeting
held that day. Peterson testified that because of her duty to
report, she immediately went to Linda Stout, her supervisor,
for her guidance on what steps to take in light of
7} As an additional component of the sexual offender
treatment, Peterson instructed her "clients" to
keep a journal of their thoughts and feelings. Peterson
testified that she did not tell her "clients" what
to write in the journal, and Stephens did not write in his
journal during class. Peterson testified that the
"clients" were aware that she was going to review
their journal entries. On June 4, 2015, Stephens submitted
his journal to Peterson. In his journal, Stephens disclosed
additional initials, which he had not listed on the index
cards submitted to Peterson on June 2, 2015. Peterson brought
the additional initials to Stout's attention, and on June
4, 2015, Stout contacted the Talbert House legal department,
otherwise known as QCS. QCS directed Stout to contact the
police. Stout contacted Lieutenant Cavanaugh from the
Kettering Police Department. Lt. Cavanaugh then contacted
Detective Gary Schomburg who had previously investigated
Stephens' underlying conviction in Case No. 2013 CR 3550
for gross sexual imposition. Det. Schomburg spoke with Stout
on June 4, 2015, and she informed him that Stephens had
potentially disclosed additional sex offense victims in his
journal and on index cards during his treatment at Talbert
House. Det. Schomburg directed Stout to send him copies of
the relevant documents but did not ask her to obtain any
additional information from Stephens regarding his
admissions. Stout then contacted QCS in order to confirm it
was acceptable to transfer the documents to Det. Schomburg.
QCS instructed Stout to send copies of the documents to Det.
Schomburg. QCS also instructed Stout to inform Stephens that
the documents were being disclosed to the police.
8} On June 5, 2015, Stout contacted Schomburg via
telephone and informed him that she could provide the
documentation to him. The documents were later transmitted
via fax to Det. Schomburg. After speaking with Det.
Schomburg, Stout and Peterson had a meeting with Stephens in
Stout's office. At the beginning of the meeting, Stout
reviewed the Talbert House confidentiality agreement with
Stephens. Stephens acknowledged that he first reviewed the
agreement when he was processed into the program, and again
when he initially met with Peterson when his treatment began.
Stephens also acknowledged that he had signed the
confidentiality agreement. Stout also reiterated that she and
Peterson were mandatory reporters who were legally required
to report sex abuse of a child to the police. Therefore,
Stout informed Stephens that she was required to report to
the police the additional victims he had disclosed during his
treatment at Talbert House.
9} At that point, Stephens indicated that there was
one less victim than the number that Stout had indicated.
Stephens stated that the initials I.A. and B.A. on the index
cards were the same person, and he listed her initials twice
because he "offended on her twice." Stout asked
Stephens if he had anything else to tell them, and he
disclosed the full name of another child that he had abused.
Stout testified that Stephens informed her that he felt
relieved for having disclosed the additional sex offenses.
However, when Stephens reviewed the initials R.R. which he
had disclosed, he became upset and requested an attorney. At
that point, the meeting was concluded, and Stout made
arrangements for Stephens to retain counsel.
10} After the meeting, Stout contacted Det.
Schomburg to verify that he had received the faxed documents.
Stout informed Det. Schomburg of the actual names of the
additional victims that Stephens provided during the earlier
meeting. Stout also informed Det. Schomburg that Stephens had
requested that an attorney be present during any questioning
by the police.
11} On October 8, 2015, Stephens was indicted for
three counts of rape of a child under ten years of age. At
his arraignment on October 15, 2015, Stephens pled not guilty
to the charges in the indictment. Shortly thereafter,
Stephens filed a motion to suppress on October 28,
2015. Stephens amended and supplemented his
motion to suppress on November 4, 2015, and December 14,
2015. A hearing was held on said motion on February 4, 2016,
after which, both parties were permitted to file post-hearing
memoranda in support of their respective positions. In a
decision issued on March 14, 2016, the trial court overruled
Stephens' motion to suppress in its entirety.
12} On July 22, 2016, Stephens entered a plea of no
contest to each count in the indictment. On August 12, 2016,
Stephens was sentenced to a mandatory term of fifteen years
to life in prison on each count, the sentences to run
13} It is from this judgment that Stephens now
14} Stephens' sole assignment of ...