Attorneys dispute validity of casePublished 10:07am Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Defense attorney Warren Morford has seen just about everything in his 32 years practicing law, but the normally calm lawyer says he’s never had a case that has made him angrier than the attempted rape allegation involving the Ironton City Council.
“I want to go down there and jump up and down and scream, ‘What the hell are you doing? Do your job and arrest him,’” Morford, who represents the alleged victim, said in regards to the investigation that has now taken more than two months.
But Columbus-based attorney Jeremy Dodgion, who represents the accused, said state officials investigating the case are taking their time to make sure they’ve made no mistakes in what he called a “very problematic” case.
The issue began June 17 when an Ironton woman went to Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell, Ky., and said a member of city council tried to rape her at her home the night before. A hospital employee called 911 on her behalf.
“(The employee) stated (the woman) had told her that (the man) had tried to rape her at her home last night and she had to fight him off,” according to the narrative on the 911 call log.
No charges have been filed in the case. The Tribune does not generally identify rape victims or individuals accused of crimes until formal charges are filed.
Given the nature of the allegation and that it involves a member of city government, the Ironton Police turned the matter over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Identification, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Typically information from a BCI&I investigation would be turned over to the prosecutor’s staff at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Eight weeks into the investigation, state officials will say little about the probe into what happened.
Spokesmen for both BCI&I and the Attorney General’s office said no comments will be made about the case until charges or an indictment are filed.
But Morford has plenty to say.
The attorney said, in his more than three decades of practice, he has never seen a case of this nature drag on for this long without some sort of arrest or grand jury indictment.
Morford also alleges “the defense is being fed information as the investigators get it. It’s like getting free discovery way too early. The investigators are even telling the other side who the witnesses are.”
Morford said state officials have asked both sides to take state- administered lie detector tests. Morford said his client is willing to take a polygraph test administered by the state but he wants the list of questions they will ask her in advance.
The accused took a polygraph administered at his attorney’s request and Dodgion said the man passed it.
Morford contends there is more than enough physical evidence to warrant formal charges.
Dodgion said he has no comment about physical evidence because he hasn’t seen any information about it. Dodgion said he is not surprised that the case has taken so long to investigate.
“Given the nature of the complaining party I assume they want to make damn sure they make the right decision,” Dodgion said.
Dodgion said the case is so problematic that, “no one in Ironton wants to touch it with a 10-foot pole. I would be surprised if it goes forward. It’s really a very problematic case, lots of problems from the prosecutor’s standpoint.”
Asked what the problems are, Dodgion said the chief issue is the credibility of the alleged victim.
Dodgion said he is also confused why a victim, who is essentially represented by the state, needs her own attorney.
“Why on earth she has a private attorney is beyond me,” Dodgion said.
Dodgion said in time he thinks his client will be cleared of any and all wrongdoing.
Morford, however, said his client seeks justice for a grievous wrong that was perpetrated against her and he hopes she gets it.
“This has deeply affected her,” Morford said. “What happened to her, I would not want to happen to anybody.”