Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Petition calls for official's removal

Independence man faces sex charges

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

INDEPENDENCE - More than 100 petitioners called Monday for Otis Ketron to resign from Independence City Council after he was accused of using his work computer to solicit sex from a Hamilton County sheriff's detective posing as a 15-year-old girl.

City officials accepted the petition seeking Ketron's resignation without comment. Ketron, a 48-year-old father of four, was out of town on business and did not attend Monday night's council meeting.

In March, the first-term council member was arrested in Winton Terrace and charged with five counts of importuning, or sexual solicitation. Importuning is a felony punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine, upon conviction.

Sara Gadzala of Independence said the 103 people who signed the petition realize that Ketron is innocent until proven guilty. However, she added, "there are many concerns in the community'' about Ketron's serving on council.

"As an elected official, he has the responsibility to be involved with the community, and we feel he has access to the community and to the children in the community,'' Gadzala said.

"We think the city's name should not be linked with someone facing such repulsive and abhorrent charges."

Ketron, a project engineer at Procter & Gamble, is accused of using his work computer to chat with a teen - actually Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Sweeney - multiple times between December 2002 and March of this year before going to meet "her'' for sex.

At Ketron's next appearance in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on Aug. 12, a trial date is expected to be set unless he enters a plea.

In other action Monday, council approved a zone change clearing the way for construction to begin on Canberra Ridge, a controversial 225-home subdivision off Independence Station Road between Far Hills and Fleming drives.

The change was approved by a vote of 4-0, with council member Mary Pat Behler recusing herself because she felt she didn't have enough information.

Although area planners recommended the change with certain conditions, seven Kenton County residents spoke against it, saying it would aggravate an already bad flooding situation in communities south of the site. They asked that part of the site be preserved as green space.

Al Carson, who lives on old Ky. 17 in Covington, said that each subdivision built in Independence just to the north of his property worsens flooding problems for his neighbors and him.

"Right now, when they say a major thunderstorm's coming in, my family and the families around us walk on pins and needles,'' Carson said.

Marty Butler, a lawyer representing developer Jim Berling, said Berling has received the required permits and approvals for the project and will continue to work with appropriate agencies to address flooding concerns.


E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com

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