PADDLING CASE Teens say program worked as a deterrent
The rules centered on hard work, honesty and community service.
WARREN -- Young men continued to testify Thursday that participation in James Martin's juvenile diversion program helped them toe the line and behave -- even if it hurt.
Their parents, however, said they were concerned about the "swats" and videotapings by Martin, Fowler Township's police chief at the time.
The diversion program involved a lot of rules, the parents and teens said: work details, doing chores, community service, good grades, honesty, no smoking, no baggy clothes, curfews, grounding, staying out of trouble -- and paddling.
Jonathan Romine, 17, of Fowler testified in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court that sometimes the threat of consequences helped him to toe the line and listen.
He got into trouble in August 2002 with a teenage pal, Chad Greathouse of Youngstown, for shooting at six moving cars with a BB gun. They and their parents were given the choice by Martin to join his program or go to the county's Juvenile Justice Center.
They chose Martin's program.
Jonathan said he was "kind of shocked" to learn that the paddlings would come from Martin and not his father -- and he didn't know they were being videotaped. Still, he complained little.
"I didn't think it was right," he said. "He was a cop. I didn't think they were supposed to do that."
About the trial
Judge Andrew Logan is presiding over the jury trial. Martin pleaded innocent in May 2004 to 20 misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty, 11 counts of assault, 12 counts of sham legal process and seven counts of unauthorized photography. He also faces two counts of theft in office, fifth-degree felonies.
Under questioning by defense attorney Dominic Vitantonio, Jonathan and Chad agreed Martin was fair and reasonable, patient and tolerant, not mean or angry. It was clear, Jonathan said, that Martin was trying to help him.
His dad, Lynn Romine, said he was "OK" with the program his son was part of for a year, but felt bad when he learned of the videotaping.
"I wasn't aware of that. I had no idea why he would do that," Romine testified.
The father said that, except for the videotaping, Martin always had his son's best interest in mind.
One time the boy complained, however, after being hit "a little bit high up in the back," Romine recalled. He saw no bruises but noted his son moved slower for a while.
Lisa Greathouse, Chad's mother, recalled signing the rules, said she didn't know about the videotaping and wasn't told by Martin about the swats.
"I called Chief Martin and said no, I didn't agree upon the swats," she testified. "I don't believe in swats. I'd rather ground my son, take a phone away -- that kind of punishment."
Martin stopped the paddling after that, about July 2003, she said.
"I'll never forget this," she tearily recalled about picking up her son and Jonathan after a session with Martin and being told Chad was paddled. "I cringed. I mean, I cringed -- I had goose bumps on my back ... It hurt me, like I was the one that got the swats."
Chad recalled he would get extra swats if he told a lie; one time he chose a swat over more grounding or community service. Over the course of the year he was paddled 15 times.
Chad also said he couldn't sit down for a while after being paddled. He said he learned not to move while being paddled.
Upon his release from the program after a year, Martin wrote of Chad on a document introduced as evidence: "Ready to get off probation. Says he will make good decisions. Says he learned from probation. Says he learned to obey laws and parents."