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State v. Tringelof

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont

December 9, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Appellee,


          D. Vincent Faris, Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney, Nick Horton, for appellee

          George A. Katchmer, for appellant


          HENDRICKSON, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Michael Tringelof appeals the decision of the Clermont County Common Pleas Court, which classified him as a sexual predator under Megan's Law. For the reasons discussed below, this court affirms the decision.

         {¶ 2} In 2012, Clermont County grand jurors indicted Tringelof on 34 counts, including charges of kidnapping, abduction, and endangering children. Every kidnapping count included a specification finding that Tringelof committed the offense with a sexual motivation. The charges stemmed from allegations that Tringelof lured eight children into the basement of his home, bound or restrained them, and then tortured them by poking them with sharp objects or shocking them with battery-powered devices. The offenses occurred between 1998 and 2005.

         {¶ 3} In 2012, as part of a negotiated plea agreement, Tringelof pled guilty to eight of the kidnapping counts. The court thereafter sentenced Tringelof to an agreed sentence of 20 years in prison. The court also classified Tringelof as a Tier III sex offender.

         {¶ 4} Tringelof did not file a direct appeal. Four years later, Tringelof moved the court to withdraw his guilty pleas. The trial court denied the motion and Tringelof appealed. This court affirmed the trial court's decision, finding that Tringelof knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily entered his guilty pleas. State v. Tringelof, 12th Dist. Clermont Nos. CA2017-03-015, CA2017-03-016, 2017-Ohio-7657, ¶ 20.

         {¶ 5} While litigating Tringelofs motion to withdraw his pleas, the parties and trial court became aware that the court had erroneously classified Tringelof as a sex offender under the Adam Walsh Act. Because all of the offenses were committed prior to the effective date of the Adam Walsh Act, the court should have classified Tringelof under the applicable version of Megan's Law. The trial court thereafter scheduled a sexual classification hearing in May 2018.

         {¶ 6} At the hearing, the contested issues were whether the state had proven that Tringelof had a sexual motivation for the kidnapping offenses and whether Tringelof was likely to commit one or more "sexually oriented offenses" in the future. See former R.C. 2950.01(E). The state elicited testimony from the investigating detective, who described the circumstances surrounding each child victim. Tringelof sometimes lured the children into his home with bribes of baseball cards or boating trips. Other children came to the home expecting to play with Tringelof s children but instead found themselves alone with Tringelof.

         {¶ 7} In each case, Tringelof would lead the child into the basement and then restrain the child using various implements, including zip ties, dog collars, or leather straps. The children were forced to suffer various methods of torture, including being poked in the feet with nails or other sharp objects and shocked or electrocuted with wires connected to battery-powered devices. None of the children described any overt sexual acts by Tringelof during the torture. Tringelof eventually released the children and some reported that he warned them not to tell anyone.

         {¶ 8} Over Tringelofs objection, the detective testified concerning an additional alleged victim. This victim contacted police in 2012 to report that Tringelof had tortured and sexually assaulted him in 1986. The victim, who was approximately 11 years old in 1986, reported that Tringelof had lured him inside Tringelof s residence with the promise of playing a video game system. After playing video games for some time, Tringelof tied the victim to a chair, blindfolded him, and then began shocking him with a homemade battery-powered device. After shocking the victim, Tringelof placed his penis on various parts of the victim's body, including the legs, shoulder, and face. Tringelof released the victim but threatened to kill him and his family if he told anyone.

         {¶ 9} On a second occasion, about a week later, Tringelof approached the victim as the victim got off a school bus. Tringelof invited the victim into his home and the victim stated he felt he had to accept, or his family would be harmed. They played Legos until Tringelof again restrained the victim and began to beat him with a paddle. Tringelof then removed the victim's pants and placed "wax paper" on the victim's buttocks. Tringelof placed his penis on the paper and began rubbing until he ejaculated. Tringelof would have been approximately 18 years old at the time of these incidents. The state never pursued charges with respect to the 1986 victim and the record indicates this may partially have been the result of concerns over the statute of limitations.

         {¶ 10} After speaking with the 1986 victim, police checked Tringelofs police record and noted that a ten-year-old child had reported being restrained and tortured in Tringelofs basement in 2005. That case was closed ...

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