BELLEFONTAINE — Jury selection for husband and wife school superintendents took all day Tuesday and went into the evening in Logan County Common Pleas Court.
The three-day jury trial was slated to begin Tuesday for Patrick O’Donnell, 52, and Heather O’Donnell, 46. The trial may extend to go into Friday.
Individual interviews of the 50 people who had ben called for jury duty began Tuesday morning in Judge William Goslee’s chambers. At 2 p.m., the jury selection began. After a break around 4:30 p.m., the selection started once again and continued until almost 8 p.m., when eight men and four women were named to the jury. Alternates are a man and a woman.
The alleged victim will be the first witness called to the stand Wednesday morning.
Patrick O’Donnell, former superintendent of Indian Lake Schools, has been indicted on 14 charges: four counts of rape, all first-degree felonies, four counts of sexual battery, all second-degree felonies, and six counts of gross sexual imposition, all third-degree felonies. He is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison. The offenses occurred between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2016.
Heather O’Donnell, 46, faces two child endangering charges for not reporting the incident when the girl made the allegations against Patrick O’Donnell. Mrs. O’Donnell is on leave as superintendent of the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center in Bellefontaine.
The case against Patrick O’Donnell was filed for his allegedly sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl three years ago. The girl, who doesn’t attend Indian Lake Schools, is now 14. Heather O’Donnell faces charges of not informing authorities of the assaults.
The prosecutor for the case if Eric Stewart. Patrick O’Donnell is being represented by Samuel Shamansky, of Columbus. Heather O’Donnell’s attorney is Dennis Pergram, of Columbus.
Patrick O’Donnell was originally arrested June 19, 2017, and charged with gross sexual imposition in Bellefontaine Municipal Court. That charge was dismissed when Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart decided to present the case to the grand jury.
Following his arrest on a grand jury indictment in July, he was released on a $150,000 bond. Soon after, the Indian Lake Board of Education placed Patrick O’Donnell on unpaid leave because he was arrested and not able to report to work. Board members claim the district’s attendance rule gave them grounds to terminate his employment.
On Nov. 19, the board unanimously terminated Patrick O’Donnell’s contract rejecting an Ohio State Education Department recommendation to wait until the legal process played itself out.
On Nov. 29, Patrick O’Donnell filed a lawsuit to reverse the board’s decision in Logan County Common Pleas. He is seeking reinstatement as superintendent citing the board’s alleged wrongful action of terminating him. He is also seeking payment of back pay since the time of his arrest.
Patrick O’Donnell has been with the Indian Lake School District since 2010. Sidney City Schools had employed him for 20 years where he served as the district’s superintendent, principal at Northwood Elementary School and a teacher.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.