Thursday, September 11, 2003

Independence ex-councilman on probation

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Former IndependenceCouncilman Otis Ketron can't go into computer chat rooms or look at online pornography, a judge ordered Wednesday when sentencing him on a charge of using the Internet to solicit sex.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge David Davis also put Ketron, 48, of Independence, on four years probation, fined him $2,500 and designated him a sexually oriented offender, meaning he must register with the sheriff's office in the county where he lives for the next 10 years.

The father of four used his work computer at Procter & Gamble to solicit sex on the Internet from what he thought was a 15-year-old girl. The teen was actually Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Sweeney working undercover.

Ketron e-mailed Sweeney posing as the girl at least a dozen times, on five occasions asking her to have sex, according to court records.

Sweeney works in the Regional Electronics Computer Investigations Section, a combined effort by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and the Cincinnati Police Department to investigate crimes committed using computers.

Since January 2002, the task force has arrested 21 men on importuning charges in stings. So far 17 have been convicted, with four cases pending. Thirteen of those convicted served at least some jail time. One man has been convicted but has not been sentenced.

Ketron was convicted last month and could have faced up to a year in prison. Ten people wrote letters to Davis on Ketron's behalf.

Ketron was arrested in March. Procter & Gamble fired him in April for inappropriate use of his work computer, according to court records. Last month, Ketron resigned from his first-time post on the Independence City Council. In his resignation letter, he said he was accepting an out-of-town job.

Ketron's lawyer, James Perry, criticized Ohio's importuning law in a sentencing memorandum.

"The defendant's Internet chat with a police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl has had a catastrophic impact upon (Ketron's) life," Perry wrote. "There has been no 'impact' upon a fictional victim."

"The defendant is a good man caught up in a sting, which encouraged his actions for the purposes of prosecution. (The importuning law) appears to offer law enforcement a vehicle to entice criminal conduct involving a fictitious victim as an enforcement tool and to prevent a person from actually importuning in the future."

Several local defense attorneys, including Perry, have contested the law's constitutionality. But judges have struck down the attacks and upheld the law.


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