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State v. Hinty

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Fairfield

January 13, 2020

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
MICHAEL HINTY Defendant-Appellant

          Appeal from the Municipal Court, Case No. 18-CRB-957

          For Plaintiff-Appellee MITCHELL R. HARDEN

          For Defendant-Appellant ANDREW R. SANDERSON

          Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.

          OPINION

          Wise, Earle, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-Appellant Michael Hinty appeals the March 6, 2019 entry of conviction and sentence of the Fairfield County Municipal Court, Lancaster, Ohio. Plaintiff-Appellee is the state of Ohio.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶ 2} At the time of events in this matter, Hinty had been living with the child victim and her mother, Rebecca, for 8 years. The child victim, A.C. was 10 years old. A.C. is a special needs, low-functioning, non-verbal child.

         {¶ 3} On February 16, 2018, Hinty took A.C. to a father-daughter dance at A.C.'s school, Gorsuch West Elementary. Assistant Principal Maureen Kemper was present as a chaperone along with Gorsuch teacher Jo Lena Sark and her husband Bret. As the three looked out over the crowd from the stage, Kemper noticed Hinty standing at the back wall of the gymnasium with A.C. standing directly in front of him. Hinty's hands were draped over A.C.'s shoulders, as he rubbed A.C.'s breasts. Kemper pointed this activity out to the Sark's. All three were shocked, and viewed the touching as inappropriate. After 4-5 minutes of this, the three watched as Hinty turned to face the wall and put his hands down at his crotch.

         {¶ 4} The entire time Hinty was fondling A.C.'s breasts, he was talking to another parent, Michael Gillette. When later questioned about the incident, Gillette stated he found the behavior "a little out of the ordinary" and "…not a really normal thing to do." Nonetheless, Gillette did not view the behavior as sexual because A.C. is not "developed" and "is like a little boy."

         {¶ 5} The incident was captured on surveillance video and later turned over to police.

         {¶ 6} Lancaster Police Detective Alex Sinewe spoke with Hinty about the incident. Hinty did not deny touching A.C.'s breasts. He instead explained that A.C. is prone to "fits," and that he does what he was observed doing to calm A.C. Hinty further explained that it is only natural to rub A.C's chest, shoulder or stomach, and that there was nothing sexual about the interaction.

         {¶ 7} Hinty was later charged with one count of sexual imposition pursuant to R.C. 2907.06(A)(1). The state later amended the charge to one count of sexual imposition pursuant to R.C. 2907.06(A)(2), a misdemeanor of the third degree. Hinty pled not guilty to the charge and elected to proceed to a bench trial on January 25, 2019 where the above outlined evidence was adduced. Before the beginning of the trial, counsel for Hinty stipulated that Hinty knew A.C., that A.C. was not Hinty's spouse, and that A.C.'s disabilities substantially impaired her ability to apprise the nature of, or control Hity's touching. Hinty was not in the courtroom when his counsel entered into these stipulations, however, counsel indicated he had discussed the matter with Hinty and that Hinty was willing to so stipulate.

         {¶ 8} After hearing the evidence, the trial court found Hinty guilty of the amended charge. Following a pre-sentence investigation, the trial court sentenced Hinty to a 60-day jail term and suspended 30 days. Hinty was additionally placed on 5 years probation and classified as a Tier I sex offender.

         {¶ 9} Hinty filed an appeal, and his jail term was stayed pending this appeal. ...


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