Judge shows leniency for 'remorseful' guard
COLUMBUS (AP) -- A former juvenile prison guard who admitted sexually touching a 16-year-old female inmate will serve his 60-day sentence on weekends after his family vacation.
Cardinal Paige, 47, was the first to be sentenced in a series of allegations of abuse at the state's only girls' prison in nearby Delaware.
Delaware County Common Pleas Judge W. Duncan Whitney postponed Paige's sentence one week when Paige's attorney said it interfered with the extended family's vacation plans.
Paige is one of 12 former employees of the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility charged with felonies on accusations of abusing and endangering inmates. The others have trials pending, Whitney said. The charges plus allegations of sexual assault, beatings and inadequate medical care at Scioto led to the resignation in January of the director of the state Department of Youth Services.
Whitney also ordered Paige to get a new job within 30 days and serve five years of community control.
Paige, of Pataskala, told the court he was sorry. When he pleaded guilty to attempted sexual battery in April, Paige admitted he touched the girl's genitals in a prison laundry room in January 2004. He also said in court documents that he stood outside her room and watched as she masturbated but was not charged in that incident.
"He was very, very remorseful," said Steve Palmer, Paige's attorney.
Whitney said Paige's remorse and the girl's consent required him to show leniency under state sentencing guidelines. The charge could carry a six- to 18-month prison sentence.
Prosecutor David Yost said he wouldn't question the sentence but disagreed that the girl gave consent.
"I don't think in this situation a juvenile prisoner can give consent or facilitate the offense, ever, because you're in an inherently coercive environment," Yost said. "I don't think she bears any responsibility for what happened to her."
The sentence does not excuse the conduct, the judge said.
"Guards cannot touch these kids, there's no question. He should not be a guard," Whitney said. "In my opinion the victim encouraged it. It doesn't make it right, no way. It cannot be tolerated, but it makes a big difference as to whether someone goes to prison."
Whitney said he frequently orders defendants to serve jail time on weekends so they don't lose their jobs and go on public assistance.
A dismissed charge
Paige also had pleaded guilty to use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, for watching another inmate take off her shirt in 2004. But prosecutors dismissed the charge after the plea when they discovered the victim was 20.
Yost said prosecutors mistakenly assumed the victim was a minor because she was in a juvenile facility. Inmates can stay in juvenile facilities until age 21.
A message seeking comment was left with the Children's Law Center, a regional advocacy group in Covington, Ky., that has sued the state in federal court on behalf of six girls.