How did you come to get this particular assignment in the prosecutor's office?
I was assigned to juvenile court as the juvenile prosecutor. As juvenile prosecutor you work closely with children's services and abuse and neglect cases.
I had an interest in following those cases, and talked to Prosecutor Bob Herron about not only handling the juvenile end of the victim's situation but the prosecution of the offender.
Besides convicting criminals, what are some of your additional goals in prosecuting perpetrators of sex crimes and crimes against children?
If I can do a good job for [the victims] and achieve an outcome that gives them some closure and restores some trust and faith in not only the judicial system but other people, that is quite satisfying.
Are crimes against children on the rise in Columbiana County?
That's a misperception. I don't think they're on the rise.
Yet there is a strong perception in the public that more of these crimes are happening.
There's a combination of things that make it appear as though there are more cases like that. The public is better educated on issues of abuse, physical and sexual. There was a perception in the past that that was something that should be kept in the family, and not dealt with in a public court. That perception has changed. This office is actively prosecuting every case that is determined to have merit.
About how many child abuse cases and adult sexual assault cases do you prosecute per year?
I'd say 30 to 40.
Many people find crimes against children particularly disturbing. How do you cope with dealing with such matters almost daily?
I try to keep an open mind. But it is becoming more and more disturbing to me, particularly within the last month or so since I just became a father.
How has fatherhood altered your outlook?
I'm caring for an infant on a daily basis. I've prosecuted a number of cases in which an infant is the victim of a sexual assault or extreme physical abuse. From a personal perspective, those cases are going to be much more difficult for me to handle.
What can the average citizen do to prevent child abuse?
Don't be afraid to intervene, to look for the signs of abuse, be it physical injuries or a child acting out sexually or inappropriately. Don't be afraid to inquire into those issues.
What got you interested in the law?
Actually, I was a pre-med major before I switched over to political science. I've always been interested in dealing with the public.
If you hadn't become a prosecutor, what other occupation might you have taken up?
Selling snow cones on a beach in Florida (laughs). That's my fantasy job. Quite seriously, I could see myself in the medical profession.
What person or persons have most influenced you?
My mother and my father. My father worked for the postal service for over 30 years. He is recently deceased. My mother worked in the library in Wellsville. Both of them worked very hard to put myself and my three brothers through Ohio State. It's that dedication and love they showed that I most admire.
Who are your heroes?
The victims in these cases who muster the courage to enter into a courtroom with someone who has violated them in such a terrible way and to be able to sit in an open court and repeat those things to see that justice is done.
Some victims tell me that they want to see a case through so that the offender doesn't do it to somebody else.
Favorite types of music?
I'm a James Taylor fan. I've gone to symphonies since I was in grade school, so I also enjoy classical music.
Last book you read?
"A Child Called It." I don't recall the author's name. But it was an autobiography of an individual who was a victim of extreme physical and mental abuse at the hands of his mother.
What are some of your favorite travel destinations?
Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We try to spend a week or two down there around Christmas. I like the beach.