By Joe Gorman
Robert Lodwick said just before he was sentenced to 18 months in prison Wednesday that he became a police officer to help people.
The 14-year-old girl he was supposed to be helping told visiting Judge Thomas Porkony in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that Lodwick was a father figure to her. But he betrayed her trust when he solicited her for sex and obtained nude pictures of her.
“When you have what happened, it’s just crazy,” the girl told Judge Porkony. “He’s someone you obviously wanted to trust.”
The 41-year-old Lodwick, who was a city police officer for 14 years, was sentenced after pleading guilty May 6 to one count of importuning, one count of pandering obscenity and one count of illegal use of a minor in a nudity-oriented performance.
A joint-sentence recommendation between defense attorney J. Gerald Ingram and assistant Attorney General Angela Canepa calls for a sentence of 12 months on the importuning and 18 months on the pandering charges to run concurrently, as well as five years’ probation for the final charge, for a total of 18 months in prison.
The case had been assigned to Common Pleas Judge Maureen Sweeney, but Judge Porkony handled both the plea and sentencing because Judge Sweeney is hearing a capital murder case.
As part of his sentence, Lodwick is no longer eligible to be a police officer in Ohio.
Lodwick, who was a detective sergeant, was fired June 14, 2013, shortly after his arrest on the charges, which were first reported by the county Children Services Board to detectives at the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, who informed city police and the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Lodwick, who was a patrol supervisor, was called off the road and arrested and has been in the county jail ever since.
He was accused of soliciting a juvenile for sex between April 9 and May 23, 2013, and again June 6 of that year, just before he was to report for work on the midnight shift; he also was accused of obtaining pictures of a nude juvenile and viewing other pictures of a nude juvenile. The charges stem from his time as an investigator for the police department’s Family Services Unit, where the victim was a subject in one of the cases he was working on.
Lodwick said he loved his job with FSU because he could see the impact of his investigations. He apologized for his actions.
“I ruined a lot of people’s trust in me,” Lodwick said. “All I ever wanted to do was help.”
The ordeal has been especially hard on his wife and son, who were forced to move after his arrest because of threats and vandalism. Lodwick said he wants to finish his sentence so he can return and help his wife, who is battling an illness. He said he does not think he will get much help from counselors in prison because as a former police officer, he will be kept separate from other inmates and may not have as much access to help, but he said he has therapists and counselors lined up to see when he is released from prison.
“I just want a second chance in life to be there for my wife and son,” Lodwick said.
The victim told Judge Porkony that it will be hard for her to trust someone in authority, such as a police officer, because of what happened to her.
“You can always forgive, but you can’t forget,” she said. Then sobbing, she added, “I’ve been through so much, to have that happen, it’s just ridiculous.”
As part of his sentence, Lodwick must register his address every six months with the sheriff of the county he is living in for 25 years. He also was given credit for 363 days served in the county jail waiting for his case to wrap up.