|07-31-03: Former Police Chief to spend time behind bars
|By SEAN RICE
The Daily Standard
WAPAKONETA - Former Wapakoneta Police Chief Dave Harrison will serve 12 months in
prison for viewing obscene material on his work computer, an Auglaize County court decided
Van Wert Common Pleas Judge Charles Steele, who presided over the case
for Auglaize County Common Pleas Judge Frederick Pepple, sentenced Harrison to three and a
half years to be served concurrently for the six charges. Due to the stacking of the
sentences, Harrison will only spend 12 months in prison.
Harrison, 50, pleaded guilty in June to one count of obstruction of
official business, a second-degree misdemeanor; three counts of unauthorized use of a
computer, all fifth-degree felonies; and two counts of pandering obscene material, a
fourth- and a fifth-degree felony. One of the pandering charges was pornography involving
Steele gave Harrison 12 months for the pandering charge involving a
minor; 11 months for the second pandering charge; six months for each unauthorized use
charge; and 90 days for the obstruction charge.
Harrison's sentencing concludes a year-long investigation by the
Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) initiated by a request from
Wapakoneta Mayor Don Wittwer just before Harrison retired from the department last year.
The judge considered nearly a dozen letters written on Harrison's
behalf, statements from Harrison and his wife Vickie and statements from his attorney,
before issuing the sentence.
"He has shown full cooperation and full responsibility, and I'd
like to ask the court to recognize that," Defense Attorney John Kuhn said.
Kuhn gave a history of Harrison's pubic service, which began with time
in the U.S. Air Force.
"No evidence that Dave ever purchased anything illegal ... through
the use of the computer," Kuhn said. "There's a price to be paid, we know that,
... Dave has already paid a very large price. He has breached a trust with friends
Harrison, dressed in a dark suit and burgundy tie, choked back tears as
his wife cried while giving her final plea to the judge.
"I am proud of my husband," she said. "My husband is a
good man, he is not a person with malice."
Harrison told the judge that a combination of a his rough childhood and
a diagnosed case of chronic clinical depression led him to making bad decisions.
"My choices were flawed, but I can honestly say that I never saw
the consequences of my actions," he said.
Harrison told Steele and the crowded courtroom his depressive state
would cause memory lapses, and sometime make him lose the concept of time. He also said he
used flawed judgment when he increased dosages of his medication, or stopped taking it
altogether at times.
"There have been many occasions were I calculated the methods of
self-destruction," Harrison said.
He explained an "intimate" medical condition spurred him to
begin viewing adult pornography from his home. The images did not solve his problem, he
stated, and he began cataloging different obscene images as research.
He said his mindset of conducting research caused him to begin viewing
and downloading images of varied sexual acts from his work computer. Some of the Web sites
visited show he was also investigating the psychology behind the pornography user.
"I never intended to use any of these images for more than
research," Harrison said.
"I betrayed the community's trust. I tainted my legacy and
destroyed my reputation," he said.
Special Prosecutor Lawrence Huffman told the judge to remember the
evidence in the case, and the "obviously excessive" amount of obscene material
found on Harrison's computer.
"Judge I know you'll give real consideration ... to the facts and
materials set out," Huffman said.
Judge Steele ordered that Harrison receive no credit for "good
time," but did say the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections should be
made aware that he is a former officer and should not be included in the general prison
"You cannot punish me more severely than that which has already
happened," Harrison said before the sentencing.
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