POMEROY — Day nine of the jury trial in the case against former corrections and probation officer Larry Tucker resulted in a guilty verdict on 24 of the 25 charges late Thursday evening.
Among the charges against Tucker, 56, of Pomeroy, were multiple counts of sexual battery and kidnapping, as well as a single count of theft in office.
The jury deliberated three hours and thirty-five minutes to determine the verdicts.
“This predator, masquerading as a jailer and a probation officer, should now find himself on the opposite side of iron bars,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a news release.
Tucker worked as a corrections officer at the Middleport Jail and as a Meigs County Common Pleas Court probation officer. Tucker allegedly sexually assaulted or attempted to sexually assault 12 different inmates and/or probationers between January 2011 and November 2017.
The jury found him guilty on six counts of kidnapping, six counts of sexual battery, five counts of attempted sexual battery, four counts of gross sexual imposition, one count of soliciting, one count of attempting to compel prostitution and one count of theft in office. The lone not guilty verdict came on a misdemeanor count of sexual imposition.
The trial took a total of nine days, with jury selection taking the first day-and-a-half, followed by opening arguments and the first witness on Tuesday, April 23. By the end of the first week, a total of 13 witnesses, including nine of the victims listed in the indictment had taken the witness stand to testify.
There were two-and-a-half days of testimony from 11 witnesses, three of them victims which were listed in the indictment, during the second week of the trial. Among the witnesses were Middleport Jail Administrator and Assistant Chief Mony Wood and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Jonathan Jenkins.
Each of the female victims who testified spoke of the actions Tucker committed against them, as well as the fear of what would have happened to them had they rejected him.
In her closing arguments, Special Prosecutor Angela Canepa, who was assisted by co-counsel Natasha Natale, noted that the crimes committed by Tucker spanned from as far back as 2011 to November of 2017 when he was initially charged and fired from the Middleport Jail and Meigs County Common Pleas Court. Additionally, she stated that the victims range in age from 23-49, come from multiple counties and are at different stages in their lives both at the time the offenses occurred and now.
Canepa went on to quote one of the victims who stated that Tucker “used his position of authority in a very sickening manor.”
In his closing argument, Defense Attorney Kirk McVay went back to the “Paint by Number” analogy which he referenced in his opening arguments. McVay told the jurors each element of the offense was a number on the painting and that if there was reasonable doubt about that element then the space must remain uncolored which would lead to an incomplete painting and therefore a not guilty verdict.
McVay stated in closing that by entering a not guilty plea to all of the charges in the case, Tucker had denied any of the allegations against him.
McVay questioned the credibility of the witnesses who testified, noting that some may have been using drugs at the time of the offenses or even when they were on the stand testifying in the case. He also stated that several had convictions prior for theft, which he stated is a crime of dishonesty.
In her rebuttal, Canepa stated that the women knew what had happened to them in the rooms with Tucker and that they testified to those experiences on the stand, being consistent with what they had previously told the investigators.
“We did not pick these women, he (Tucker) picked these women,” said Canepa. She stated that it was because of their backgrounds which may not make them as believable as others, with many testifying they did not report the incidents as they were afraid no one would believe them.
Canepa concluded by saying that there were 12 different women, most of whom did not know one another, all telling a very similar story.
“What are the odds they all fabricated the same story,” said Canepa, referencing the idea that they had conspired together on the allegations.
In addition to the sexual assault and related charges, the theft in office charge dealt with the overlap of time when Tucker was on the clock at both Meigs County Common Pleas Court and the Middleport Jail, being paid at both locations.
In addition to being found guilty of the 24 charges, the jury ruled on specifications on each of the kidnapping charges. They determined that Tucker did not release the respective victims in a safe place unharmed, and that the kidnapping offenses were committed with sexual motivation.
Tucker also faces further proceedings on sexually violent predator specifications contained in the indictment, which will be presented to the court at a later date. If Tucker is found guilty of the specifications, additional time in prison may be added to the court’s sentence.
The court revoked Tucker’s bond and he was led away in handcuffs. The court ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and Tucker will return at an undetermined date for sentencing.
Tucker is facing more than 100 years in prison when he is sentenced.
Tucker was originally indicted on 32 total counts, with seven of the charges dismissed before being considered by the jury.
As previously reported, Tucker had rejected a plea agreement last fall which would have called for him to plead guilty to four third degree felony counts of sexual battery, two fourth degree felonies and some misdemeanors with a recommendation for an eight year prison sentence. As part of that offer, the state would not have opposed judicial release after five years. The offer was taken out of consideration following that hearing in October.
Tucker is currently being held at the Washington County Jail after being taken into custody by Meigs County Sheriff’s Deputies on Thursday night. Tucker had been free on bond throughout the case, but, at the request of the state, Judge Linton Lewis revoked his bond after the guilty verdicts.
The Special Prosecutions section and Bureau of Criminal Investigation of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office prosecuted and investigated the case, respectively.
A portion of the information for this article from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.