WARREN Suspect in sex assaults on 3 young girls is jailed
The victims are girls between the ages of 13 and 15.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A suspect in sexual assaults on three teenage girls is being held without bond in Trumbull County jail.
At the request of Traci Rose, assistant city law director, Municipal Judge Thomas Gysegem denied bond for James L. Cline Jr., 32, of Forest Avenue N.W. at Cline's initial appearance Friday afternoon.
Cline is charged with one count of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition, all felonies; one count of obstructing official business, two counts of carrying a concealed weapon, and one count of driving under license suspension, all misdemeanors.
The judge entered an automatic innocent plea for Cline on the felony charges. Cline pleaded innocent to the misdemeanor charges.
In the courtroom, Rose told the judge that the victims were between the ages of 13 and 15; that a knife was used in one of the attacks; that she believed other felony charges are forthcoming against Cline from Niles, one of them involving use of a gun; and that Cline "has an extensive criminal history" in Ohio and Texas.
As Cline appeared before the judge, he said he intended to have court-appointed counsel. Judge Gysegem said a lawyer from the public defender's office would interview Cline in jail no later than Monday morning. A preliminary hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
The rape charge stems from a Sept. 8 attack on a 15-year-old Linden Street S.E. girl on railroad tracks between Woodland and East Market streets, while she was walking home from Warren G. Harding High School.
The two gross sexual imposition charges stem from attacks on girls walking to East Middle School on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Tuesday attack was on a 13-year-old girl on Kenilworth Avenue S.E.
School warns parents
The Tuesday attack prompted a letter from Martin Kelly, assistant principal at East, warning parents to talk to their children "about safe procedures to follow when walking to and from school."
The Wednesday attack was on a 14-year-old girl, said Detective Justin Soroka of the city police.
"Mr. Cline is also a person of interest in a number of other incidents both inside and outside our jurisdiction," City Law Director Greg Hicks said.
In each of the cases, the attacker would come up behind the victim, grab her and assault her, Soroka said. Police will look into "strikingly similar" sexual assaults that occurred in Warren in 2002, he added.
Caught after chase
Cline was caught by city police in a back yard on Laird Avenue N.E. after a two-block foot pursuit. Cline had run from the vehicle after police stopped the minivan he was driving at Bonnie Brae Avenue and Woodland Street. Police said the minivan had run a red light shortly after the Wednesday attack.
After Cline's arrest, his parole was revoked and he was jailed pending Friday's court appearance, Soroka said. Hicks said he didn't know the charge for which Cline was on parole.
The concealed weapons charges stem from two knives police said they found in the minivan, and the obstructing official business charge stems from his fleeing police, Hicks said.
To reduce the risk of similar incidents in the future, Hicks urged students to walk to and from school in groups.
"He has a criminal record that goes back to the 1990s, primarily theft and forgeries, receiving stolen property type of offenses," Hicks said of Cline. "We are happy to say that this individual is off the streets now."