MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - UPDATE: 12/7/2018 12:00 PM
The trial of Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings has been changed to February 6 in Washington County Common Pleas Court.
The continuance was approved by visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove and filed in court December 6.
The trial, on two misdemeanor charges, was originally scheduled to begin Tuesday, December 11.
A hearing in the case against Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings addressed potential witnesses and motions regarding his upcoming trial.
Partly at issue is admissibility as witnesses of four women, also stated to have past issues with Rings. It has been said one of them had a relationship with Rings when he was an assistant prosecutor more than 20 years ago.
Rings' attorney, Dennis McNamara, argued a large number of witnesses were brought before the grand jury that indicted Rings in June.
"They brought those people into the grand jury expecting all sorts of felonies and other charges, I believe," McNamara argued before Judge Patricia Cosgrove Friday morning. "But they only got two misdemeanors, and they want to present all the same stuff they presented to the grand jury and they rejected."
The special prosecutor in the case adds, among the people he would like to see at Rings' trial, is an expert who would discuss the ethics behind the offenses Rings is accused of.
"If the defense is what we think it is," said Matt Donahue, Special Prosecutor, "we intend to produce an expert report that this is not a legitimate law enforcement act, that's appropriate for a prosecutor to do."
Judge Cosgrove also set Rings' trial date for December 10. A pre-trial hearing is set for early November.
The special prosecutor in the case against Kevin Rings releases a "Bill of Particulars" outlining complaints against the Washington County Prosecutor.
The report outlines numerous text messages between Rings and his primary accuser in late June and early July, 2017.
It also details a meeting between the two July 6. 2017, in which Rings is accused of inappropriately touching the victim.
Special Prosecutor Matthew Donahue's report mentions an unnamed assistant prosecutor saying the meeting was, "a sexual harassment case waiting to happen".
The bill of particulars was released at the request of Rings' attorney.
Donahue also filed an intent to produce evidence regarding other alleged victims.
In that statement, Donahue says Rings "has a pattern of conduct, in part using the prosecutor's office to target women who were in difficult or vulnerable times in their life">
Donahue has asked that statements from four other women be admitted in Rings' upcoming trial.
Washington County prosecutor Kevin Rings was in court Thursday for his pretrial hearing.
Rings was indicted last month on two misdemeanor charges, one count of coercion and one count of sexual imposition.
Rings' defense attorney Dennis McNamara filed a motion on July 2 to modify the conditions of Rings' bond, which specified no contact with the victim or any witnesses called by the prosecution. That motion was granted by Judge Patricia Cosgrove.
The defense also issued a motion asking the court to limit the presentation of certain evidence disclosed by the state.
McNamara says much of the evidence is not relevant to the charges and would only confuse or mislead the jury.
UPDATE: 6/8/2018, 2:45 P.M.
While Kevin Rings remains in office, there's questions about what cases he can handle-without a potential conflict of interest.
The Washington County Commission doesn't have any authority-beyond budgets-over the prosecutor's office.
But commissioner Ron Feathers said it has been approached in the past by prosecutors to appoint special legal counsel in other conflict of interest cases.
Feathers says, however, such a request has not been made in this case.
He says, while the commission does not have unlimited funds, it will do whatever is possible to ensure cases move along.
A conflict of interest could involve cases dealing with crimes such as those Rings is charged with: coercion and sexual imposition.
In 2014, a special prosecutor was appointed in Kanawha County to hear cases with charges identical to those filed against Prosecutor Mark Plants.
According to our sister station, WSAZ, Plants at the time was charged with domestic battery in a spanking incident involving one of his sons, and the prosecutor's office was disqualified by a judge from hearing involving crimes of violence by a parent or guardian, abuse and neglect cases and violations of domestic violence protection orders.
UPDATE: 6/7/2018, 2:25 P.M.
Washington County Commission president Ron Feathers says the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation began investigating Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Rings in 2017, after Rings allegedly touched a female inappropriately in his office.
On Thursday, a Washington County Grand Jury indicted Kevin Rings, 55, of Marietta, on one count of coercion, a second-degree misdemeanor, and one count of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor.
Feathers released the following statement about the indictment, "Now the Washington County Board of Commissioners does not tolerate misconduct and these are serious charges however Prosecutor Rings is presumed innocent and is entitled to defend himself in court we are confident that this case will proceed through the criminal justice system and out of respect to the legal process we will not comment on this case while criminal charges are pending."
Feathers says the commission does not have control in the placing or displacing of elected officials like Rings.
The incidents allegedly occurred in July 2017.
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks says Rings pleaded not guilty to both charges.
He was released on his own recognizance on the condition he has no contact with the victim.
Rings still currently serves as the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney. He is due in court for a pre-trial in July.
ORIGINAL STORY: 6/7/2018, 2:03 P.M.
A Washington County grand jury has indicted Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Rings on misdemeanor charges of coercion and sexual imposition.
Kevin Rings, 55, of Marietta, was indicted on one count of coercion, a second-degree misdemeanor, and one count of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor.
Prosecutors say in July 2017, Rings allegedly made inappropriate, sexual contact in his office with a woman who was both a witness in one case and a defendant in another.
The case is being prosecuted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section.
It was investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.