BELLEFONTAINE – Former Sidney City Schools superintendent Patrick O’Donnell has been denied a request for early release from prison on a sex-related charge against a teenage minor girl. He was sentenced just over a year ago to more than four years in prison.
In the 2018 case, on Feb. 13, O’Donnell accepted a plea agreement the day his jury trial was set to begin. O’Donnell took an Alford Plea at the trial which indicates his lack of remorse or responsibility.
According to USLegal.com, the Alford stipulation states, in part, that a criminal defendant “does not admit the act but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge”, and that making such a plea may be to “avoid being convicted on a more serious charge”.
On March 21, he was sentenced to 54 months in prison on one count of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony.
Before the agreement, O’Donnell was originally facing 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. With multiple felony charges, O’Donnell was facing possible consecutive life sentences if convicted on the original allegations.
O’Donnell was the superintendent of Indian Lake Local School District when the two-year period of abuse began against the girl, who was 13 at the time.
Last month, on April 10, Logan County Common Pleas Court Judge William Goslee, who was on the bench for the O’Donnell case, denied the request, according to online court records.
At the original sentencing, Goslee spoke his opinions of how the trial played out.
Goslee said “I’m mystified that Mr. O’Donnell doesn’t understand the severity of the allegations. It says here (in the presentence report) that he was ‘flabbergasted’ by the allegations.”
He said O’Donnell was in a position of trust and authority and that his actions were “more sinister and involved” than he was willing to admit to.
“You used that position of trust to overpower a child,” Goslee said. “This is a very difficult case and you continue to deny her (the victim) a version of what happened.”
O’Donnell and his attorney, Samuel Shamansky of Columbus, stood to reply to Goslee. O’Donnell said he had apologized to the victim and was ready to move on. Goslee pressed O’Donnell for an answer on whether, or not he agreed with the victim’s version of the facts, O’Donnell said he did.
Goslee said that admission, which was lacking before, provides the victim a better understanding in her emotional healing process.
Part of the plea agreement included the dismissal of charges against his wife, Heather O’Donnell.
Mrs. O’Donnell is the former superintendent of the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center in Bellefontaine.
Patrick O’Donnell had 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.