Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Fairfield
from the Municipal Court, Case No. 18-CRB-957
Plaintiff-Appellee MITCHELL R. HARDEN
Defendant-Appellant ANDREW R. SANDERSON
W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E.
Wise, Jr., 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.
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
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
9} Hinty filed an appeal, and his jail term was stayed
pending this appeal. ...