Prosecutor taking Trumbull Children Services case to grand jury
In one of the few cases of its kind in state history, a Trumbull County grand jury will decide whether any employees of the Trumbull County Children Services Board will face criminal charges for their handling of a child visitation at CSB offices.
Atty. Paul Scarsella of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office was appointed last week as special prosecutor. He will present information to a grand jury, which will determine whether criminal charges are warranted, according to court documents filed recently in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office and its Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation conducted an investigation into the actions of CSB employees after allegations surfaced that the biological parents of a 9-month-old girl raped the girl during a visit at the CSB offices on Reeves Road in 2011.
One of the parents, Cody Beemer, has since pleaded guilty to that offense, as well as others, and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. His wife, Felicia Banks-Beemer, remains in the Trumbull County jail awaiting trial.
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins and his staff have handled those prosecutions.
Watkins asked state investigators last October to determine whether any Children Services employees should be charged with child endangerment for their role in the sexual assaults.
The state has completed that investigation, and Scarsella wrote to Watkins on Aug. 1 to indicate he had reviewed the investigation and is prepared to present its findings to a grand jury.
“It has always been my policy to present [a] case such as this to the Grand Jury,” Scarsella wrote to Watkins. “I believe the Grand Jury can best assess the credibility of the individuals involved and make a decision as to clearing or charging an individual.”
Watkins sought a special prosecutor in relation to the actions of the employees because Watkins and his office serve as legal counsel to the Children Services Board and therefore would have a conflict of interest in handling the matter, Watkins pointed out in a court document.