By Ed Runyan
Atty. David Engler says the appointment of a guardian for the child reportedly raped during a visit at Trumbull County Children Services last April will make it possible for him to sue the agency on the child’s behalf.
On Tuesday, Judge Thomas A. Swift of Trumbull County Probate Court overruled objections raised by attorneys for Children Services and said he would appoint Atty. John Rossi to serve as guardian.
Engler said he expects to file suit against the agency in about a week in an attempt to recover damages from the agency for failing to protect her.
A Children Services attorney told Judge Swift that Ohio law doesn’t give the judge jurisdiction to appoint a guardian because the Trumbull County Family/Juvenile Court had jurisdiction first.
Engler said the family court has jurisdiction only over custody of the child, which is different from what Engler was seeking Tuesday — appointment of someone to serve as guardian over the child’s estate in the event that legal action on her behalf generates any money.
Engler was representing Loretta Banks, grandmother of the alleged rape victim, in Tuesday’s hearing.
The child is now 18 months old and living in foster care.
He also represents Banks in action filed in October that asks Family Court to grant Banks temporary custody of the girl so she has “standing” to ask family court to transfer custody of the girl from Trumbull Children Services to a children-services agency in another county.
In a related matter, an attorney representing Cody Beemer of Warren, one of two people accused of raping the girl, asked a judge Tuesday to allow a second psychological evaluation at a cost of up to $3,000.
The Forensic Center of Northeast Ohio conducted one evaluation to determine whether Beemer was sane at the time of the alleged offense and whether he is competent to stand trial.
Though the results of the evaluation were not made public Tuesday during a pretrial hearing in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, observers said it’s apparent the evaluation deemed Beemer sane and competent to stand trial or his attorney would not have asked for another evaluation.
In another related matter, Brian J. Harclerode, who worked four years as a Children Services caseworker, resigned Jan. 17 after admitting he was the person who wrote an email to Engler’s Internet blog April 6.
According to the Canfield Police Department, which investigated the matter because Engler’s daughter received the message at Engler’s Canfield home, the message started out, “Sir, I am asking you politely to stop. I’ll only ask once. If you continue, please be aware that the public will know of all your ‘transgressions.’”
The message arrived the day after Engler argued in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on behalf of clients claiming their right to attend a public meeting of the Children Services Board was violated by a requirement that they put their name on a sign-in sheet.
Engler filed a complaint with police, saying the message was threatening.
Canfield police said Harclerode told them he didn’t intend to threaten Engler and “admitted to making a poor decision.”
After Harclerode resigned, Engler agreed to drop his complaint.