By Janie Southard
WAPAKONETA -- Ashley S. Hurlburt, 20, was sentenced Tuesday to three months in the Auglaize County Jail.
Her shoulders shook with sobs as she was remanded into custody of a waiting Auglaize County Sheriff's officer at Auglaize County Common Pleas Court after Judge Frederick Pepple pronounced sentence.
Charges against Hurlburt, a St. Marys native who lives in Findlay where she attends the University of Findlay, all involve an incident of circulating photographs of a nude minor in the late summer and early fall of 2003 in St. Marys. At that time she lived with her parents at 2207 Kensington Drive, St. Marys.
She pleaded guilty May 3 to a negotiated fifth-degree felony of possessing and viewing a nude photograph of a minor. She originally was charged with photographing a minor in a state of nudity.
The charge stems from a scheme where her former boyfriend, Chad Jenkins, 23, paid or provided alcohol to several teens in the area after they agreed to be photographed at least partially nude. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to photographing a nude juvenile, possessing the photograph and disseminating matter harmful to a minor. He currently is serving four years and 11 months in prison and has been labeled a sexual predator. Upon release from prison, Jenkins must register his address with the local sheriff every 90 days for the rest of his life. Hurlburt's involvement is linked specifically to an incident in the summer of 2003 where she provided a photo of a partially nude St. Marys teenage girl to Jenkins for his "collection."
During questioning by Pepple, Hurlburt said she agreed to take the photograph and did deliver the $200 to the minor's house. "But, I didn't take the picture," she told the judge.
She also answered Pepple's question that yes, she still thinks people are making a bigger deal of this than it was.
"This attitude concerns me," Pepple said during the sentencing. "I know you're sorry. I know you feel you've been victimized by the publicity, but you don't feel victimized by (Jenkins). And that concerns me. You say you still have feelings about him. How can that be considering his activity with some of your relatives. That doesn't seem to upset you."
Hurlburt said several times upon questioning that she is still friends with Jenkins but does not feel "relationship feelings" toward him.
Hurlburt's attorney, Robert Kehoe, said Jenkins had been categorized at his Feb. 11 court appearance as a "child molester and a rapist." He further stated that Hurlburt was misled and manipulated by Jenkins.
The attorney added that Jenkins had a "sexual need to view photos of the breasts of teenage girls for his own sexual arousal."
"He ordered Ashley to go to one 16-year-old and pick up a photograph," Kehoe told the court.
Hurlburt told the judge she thought she was in love with him. "When you're in love, you'll do anything for that person," she said, wiping tears from her face.
On her behalf, Kehoe presented to the judge three letters in support of Hurlburt's good character. One letter was from Bill Cheslock, Memorial High School guidance counselor, another from Susie Zink, adviser to the St. Marys high school National Honor Society, of which Hurlburt was a member, and the last from Mary Ann Griffin, manager of the Hallmark Store and friend of Hurlburt.
All three stated in individual letters that Hurlburt is a trustworthy, honest person who just made a bad decision to associate with Jenkins. "A bad decision does not make her a bad person," Griffin wrote.
In addition to the three months incarceration, Pepple sentenced her to five years community control sanctions; no contact with the victim; no contact with Chad Jenkins; no possession of nudity items, subject to search at all times by any law or probation officer; no contact with any victims in the Jenkins trial except those approved by the adult probation officer; no photography equipment or material unless probation officer approves.
Also, Hurlburt must obtain and maintain mental health consultation and pay a $500 fine, $250 of which will be suspended if she pays it all in one year.
"I want you to learn to stand on your own feet. You are responsible for your own acts and you will be held accountable," Pepple said. "I agree you made poor judgments, but I'm very concerned that you don't understand how poor they were and how wrong this was."