A Warren County judge Wednesday acquitted a Mason man accused of raping a toddler with a screwdriver.
Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Donald Oda found Patrick Parker, 49, not guilty on two counts of first-degree felony counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition, third-degree felonies.
The rape charges carried a possible penalty of up to life in prison.
Parker was accused of using a screwdriver and his fingers to sexually assault the three-year-old child with whom he was acquainted during overnight stays at his Mason residence between July 2007 and June 2009.
The investigation began in 2009 when, at age three, the girl told her mother Parker inserted his tongue in her mouth when he kissed her. Two years later, she told a licensed clinical psychologist Parker had penetrated her with his fingers and a device she described as a screwdriver.
Defense attorneys argued the girl’s story was riddled with inconsistencies and put experts on the stand to testify she may have been vulnerable to suggestible memories.
“All it takes is a kid hearing something on TV and she makes some sort of statement and boom, the whole ball is in motion,” said Parker’s attorney, Bradley Kraemer. “It’s a very scary situation that a case can get that far basically solely on the word of a child.”
Parker, a traveling salesman, cried as the verdict was read and hugged family members and supporters in the audience. Kraemer said that he and his client were pleased by the three-day bench trial’s outcome.
A clinical assessment performed in 2009 on Parker revealed no signs of sexual deviancy and he passed a polygraph examination, noted Kraemer. Numerous doctor’s visits during this time also revealed no signs of sexual trauma and no sexual assault forensic examination was ever performed, he added.
“There was certainly not enough evidence to warrant a conviction,” said Kraemer. “I feel like the judge made the right decision.”
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said while the case’s lack of physical evidence made it difficult to prosecute, he doesn’t regret bringing it to trial.
“We did the best we could with what we had,” said Fornshell. ” We didn’t have DNA or a medical examination. What it came down to is a situation of a child’s word over that of an adult.”
“While we disagree with the judge and are disappointed with the outcome, I understand how difficult it is to prove these cases beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “If presented with this type of case in the future with the evidence we had, I would do the exact same thing.”