By Ed Runyan
Andre Ervin’s 56th criminal charge through Warren Municipal Court over the past nine years resulted in a 60-day stay in the Trumbull County jail, but not a psychological evaluation or indictment.
Ervin, 48, possibly the Warren Police Department’s most habitual criminal offender, is back on the streets, despite the testimony of a 16-year-old Harding High School student who said Ervin groped her breasts as she walked to school Oct. 7.
A magistrate in Warren Municipal Court also ordered a psychological evaluation for Ervin on Nov. 1 because of his behavior in court and because Ervin asked for one.
But Judge Thomas Gysegem later overruled the magistrate and held a hearing on the gross-sexual-imposition charge. The victim testified. After the hearing, Judge Gysegem found probable cause to bind over the charge to a Trumbull County grand jury.
But the grand jury declined to indict Ervin and returned the case to Warren Municipal Court as a misdemeanor offense.
On Tuesday before Judge Terry Ivanchak, Ervin pleaded no contest to misdemeanor sexual imposition. He was given credit for the 60 days already spent in jail and released.
Tuesday’s sentencing was delayed two previous times in the past three weeks because, court officials said, Ervin was not in good enough mental condition to be brought to municipal court for the hearing.
In the police report regarding Ervin’s Oct. 7 arrest, the victim said that before she ran away, Ervin had asked her questions but then began to talk to himself and to people who weren’t there.
Prosecutor Nick Graham said there was no point in asking for another psychological evaluation for Ervin on Tuesday because Ervin has passed his psychological evaluations in the past.
However, Warren Municipal Court records show that The Forensic Center of Northeast Ohio in Austintown told Judge Ivanchak in January 2011 that Ervin needed to be placed in Heartland Behavioral Health Care Center in Massillon for treatment.
About two weeks later, at the request of Heartland and in consultation with Valley Counseling Services of Warren, Ervin was placed in a Warren “step-down” facility, according to Warren Municipal Court records.
When he was released from there in late February, he went back to the Trumbull County jail and remained there until court hearings on a disorderly-conduct charge were completed.
He was released from the jail March 15 and was arrested on a new charge, criminal trespass, March 27.
Capt. Joe Marhulik of the Warren Police Department said it’s not uncommon for police to answer four “nuisance” calls in one day regarding Ervin.
One of the few times Ervin came before a county common-pleas court judge on a felony offense — in 1996 — Judge Andrew Logan ordered that Ervin go to a state psychiatric hospital in Columbus. Ervin spent five years there — the maximum time allowed on an arson charge.
John Myers, director of evaluation and quality improvement for the Trumbull County Board of Mental Health and Recovery, formerly Lifelines, said Ohio’s mental-health system has changed dramatically since 1996.
Since the mid-1980s, the state has reduced the number of psychiatric hospitals from 17 to six and also changed the length of time at those facilities. The average stay today is seven days. As a result, the responsibility for caring for individuals with severe mental illness has shifted to the community.
In Ohio in the past three years, however, the amount of money provided to Trumbull County to provide that care has dropped significantly, said April Caraway, executive director of the mental health and recovery board.
Trumbull County has five group homes that can accommodate about 30 clients, but those facilities are run by “lay people” — people without counseling degrees or other expertise, Caraway said.
“Things are getting worse — fewer hospitals, fewer prisons, less money for treatment,” Caraway said.