(Editor’s Note: Due to the number of victim’s in this case, the victims will be referred to by an assumed name. The Meigs Independent Press does not publish the names of victims or alleged victims in cases. Some readers may find the testimony to be disturbing and even graphic. The Meigs Independent Press is not publishing the most graphic of content stated in the courtroom or specifics that may reveal the identity of victims. The Meigs Independent Press was not permitted to take photographs of the defendant during the trial. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.)
POMEROY, Ohio – A trial that began on April 22, 2019 continues in the Meigs County Court of Common Pleas for a former jail and probation officer.
Special Prosecutor Angela Canepa has brought in one witness after another to show support for the state’s case that Larry Tucker, 56, of Rutland, sexually assaulted 12 reported victims during a period from Jan. 2011 to Nov. 1, 2017. During that time period Tucker worked full time at the Meigs County Court of Common Pleas as probation officer and part-time at the Middleport Jail as a corrections officer also known as a CO. During this time period Tucker served on the Meigs Local School Board and ran for Meigs County Commissioner. Tucker has been charged with 31 felony counts and one misdemeanor involving the 12 alleged victims. His charges are: six counts of Sexual Batter, all felonies of the third degree; eight counts of Kidnapping, all felonies of the first degree; six counts of Gross Sexual Imposition, all fourth degree felonies; four counts of Attempted Compelling Prostitution, all fourth degree felonies; on count of Theft in Office, a fifth degree felony; and one misdemeanor count of Soliciting, a misdemeanor of the first degree. Tucker is represented by Kirk McVey.
“What the court system is not supposed to do is victimize them further,” said Canepa during opening statements of the women that were in Tucker’s charge either as a jail officer or as their probation officer. The alleged victims were in the Middleport Jail awaiting trial or on probation. Throughout the testimony from alleged victims, many of them broke down or testified through tears.
Throughout testimony, McVey, tried to trip up witnesses on timelines and focused on the alleged victims not being forced by Tucker to do anything.
Day One of Trial
The jury selection started later in the day and recessing for the day around 4 p.m. The jury pool was admonished by Judge Linton not to comment on the case or to read about it in any form of media.
Day Two of Trial
Jury selection began at 9 a.m. with roll call for the jury pool. By 11:25 a.m. a jury was seated with testimony set to begin after the break for lunch.
Following opening statements from both Canepa and McVey, the jury was taken to view sites involved in the case including the Middleport Jail and the Meigs County Court of Common Pleas courtroom, jury room and other areas of the courthouse. Following the viewing of sites, the state began with a victim the Meigs Indpendent Press will refer to as Mel. Mel was at the Middleport Jail where Tucker served as a corrections officer. She was very blunt about the experience that she had at the jail. She stated that Tucker, while he was working a later shift, took another female inmate and Mel from the cell area. He had them help with folding laundry and cleaning up. During that time, Mel testified that she had an encounter with Tucker in which he took her into a supply closet where the two kissed. According to Mel, Tucker put his hands down her pants and touched her inside of her vagina. Mel stated that she went willing into the closet, but that Tucker is “older than my dad” and that his position of authority over her as a corrections officer played a role in her compliance. She state that Tucker had the authority to make her life a “miserable hell” while she was in the Middleport Jail. Video was shown where Tucker brings Mel and another female inmate into areas they were not supposed to be. It also shows Tucker and Mel going off camera to the supply closet alone for sometime. Mel ended up leaving the jail and at a later time set to be transferred back, that is when she informed officials from the Pike County Sheriff’s Office she didn’t want to go back there because of Tucker. That began a series of events which led to the investigation along with Pike County removing all of their inmates from the Middleport Jail.
Day Three of Trial
Three more victims and a witness took the stand for day two of testimony. One of the alleged victims the Meigs Independent Press is referring to as Mary took the stand. She said she without a vehicle/license and would ride her bicycle many miles from West Virginia to Pomeroy to attend Health Recovery Services. Tucker was her probation officer and according to Mary, would show up at her home alone and later in the evening. She outlined what was becoming a pattern with the alleged victims, Tucker would begin with saying inappropriate things then hold the victims hand, caress it or kiss it before attempting to touch them further. Mary said that several such incidents occurred and things were escalating with Tucker. “I was nervous and scared,” she said on the stand.
“I was nervous and scared,” she said on the stand.Mary, an alleged victim of Larry Tucker
Mary stated that Tucker wanted to see her, but not for her court ordered reporting, but after hours. Tucker also told her not to bring her boyfriend with her to court. At one point Mary did bring her boyfriend with her as she was increasingly feeling uneasy about Tucker. She said that Tucker saw her boyfriend in the back of the courtroom and instead of continuing to be in the Vivitrol Program, she was incarcerated in the Middleport Jail before being sent to Star program residential treatment. Mary said that the judge stated he would consult with Tucker before making his final decision and following that, she was taken into custody. She said she spent three days in the Middleport Jail and that Tucker permitted her to use a different phone than what the inmates were supposed to use in order to call her daughter. When it cam time for her to be transferred, Tucker insisted on transporting her there and allegedly had a dispute with a deputy about Tucker being the one to take her. It delayed her being moved a day. Tucker transported her to Star and at first it was the normal protocol for transport. Mary was in the back seat. On the way, Tucker stopped at a gas station. He bought her a Mountain Dew and a pack of cigarettes. When they got back to the car, Tucker told her she could sit in the front seat. Mary testified that half way to Star as he was driving, she said that Tucker put his hand on thigh. According to Mary, things then escalated. “He put his hand down my pants,” she said.
Mary said that Tucker touched her in her vagina and made a comment about wanting her “ass on his face” but she did not recall saying anything. “I felt tears building up,” she said and at that point Mary turned her head to look out the window. She testified that she did not want Tucker to see her cry.
“I was scared of him,” she said over and over again on the witness stand, “I was scared that nobody would believe me.”Mary, an alleged victim of Larry Tucker
Mary said that when Tucker dropped her off at the Star program, he told her to call him and he would pick her up when she was let out of the program. Mary did not call Tucker, she called her boyfriend. When she returned home, she ended up contacting Day Report in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and eventually told them about what she says Tucker did to her. From there, the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office and then eventually Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) to investigate the allegations.
Mary’s boyfriend also testified saying she had changed since the incident. He said she had lost her appetite, was losing weight and had a lot of anxiety issues.
Another victim, to be referred to as Missy, told a similar story of Tucker. She said she knew the authority Tucker had to revoke her probation. While doing community service which involved cleaning in the Meigs County Courthouse, Missy said Tucker led her into the jury room. She assumed that Tucker was going to show her what she was supposed to be working on next. Instead, Tucker pulled her pants down. He also allegedly unbuckled his pants and exposed his penis to her. According to Missy, Tucker wanted oral sex. She said she didn’t want to make him mad, but did not want to engage in sexual acts. She acted like she heard someone and Tucker stopped everything. He drove her home that night and was quiet according to Missy. Tucker’s behavior did not stop according to Missy. She said that Tucker kept wanting to come over when Missy’s husband was gone.
Day Four of Trial
“It’s embarrassing,” she said of testifying and going through the investigation, “I have nothing to gain here,” stated an alleged victim the Meigs Independent Press will refer to as Mindy. She noted Tucker’s standing in the community, that he was on the Meigs Local School Board and that he had authority over her as a probation officer. “I was a drug addict, who would believe me.”
Mindy described similiar situations with Tucker as the previous women did.
Another woman took the stand stating the whole thing was emotional for her. Referred to here as Marsha, she said her probation was eventually revoked and she went to prison. “It was a blessing. It probably saved my life,” Marsha said.
She was in Middleport Jail and stated that Tucker was nice to her, nicer than the other corrections officers. Marsha was seen in a video along with Mel. Marsha stated that Tucker would take women out of the cell to clean or fold laundry.
The next alleged victim testified that Tucker pinched her nipple through the small window that opens into the female inmate cell. The opening is used to hand the inmates medication, food trays and other similiar items. She will be referred to as Mayla. “I wanted him to be my probation officer, a professional probation officer,” Mayla said.
According to Minnie, Tucker offered to pay her $25 for 15 minutes worth of sexual conduct or $50 for an hour.Minnie, an alleged victim of Larry Tucker
Another woman testified that she was also a victim of Tucker’s. Minnie, as the MIP will refer to her as, said she told her mother about what had happened to her but she did not tell anyone else at the time. Minnie said her mother wanted her to tell, but Minnie was too afraid of what Tucker might do. According to Minnie, Tucker offered to pay her $25 for 15 minutes worth of sexual conduct or $50 for an hour. She declined, but Tucker had persisted at other times according to the witness. Minnie stated she was, “well aware a judge would listen to him far less than me.”
Day Five of Trial
Another alleged victim, to be referred to in the article as Maeve, was first to take the stand on day five of the trial. She stated, as several other alleged victims did, that Tucker started out with a flirtatious gesture or comment and things escalated from there. Maeve testified that Tucker would “air hump” a mop while cleaning at the Middleport Jail as well as make other sexual gestures. She said she was taken out to do laundry folding when Tucker led her into the supply closet. “I wasn’t real sure what to expect,” she said.
Maeve broke down, crying as she described Tucker kissing her then putting his hands down her pants and inserted his fingers in her vagina. She said he did not indicate he would do anything like that, but said, “I didn’t really object to it.”
Maeve continued her testimony stating, “He was higher up than I am. I was an inmate and he was a county official. Nobody was going to believe me, I was an inmate.”
She said Tucker just stopped and walked out of the closet. She then had to finish the small amount of laundry before Maeve went back to the cell.
Similar testimony was given throughout the day along with witnesses corroborating various points such as Tucker taking female inmates one or two at a time.
An alleged victim to be identified here as Mia, said that while she was doing community service after business hours at the Meigs County Courthouse, Tucker touched her as well. She said he took her into the Meigs County Common Pleas Courtroom to look at an area to be painted when Tucker turned, reached around her and suddenly had her backed up against a door he closed behind her. Mia testified that Tucker first put his hands up her shirt touching her breasts and then put his hand down her pants. Mia said that before it went further, the phone rang in what was then Tucker’s office area behind the Judge’s Chambers. She claimed that Tucker told her to sign a paper concerning drug use, that she had used when she had not or he would violate her probation. She told her mother what had happened, but said, “They’re not going to believe me over him.”
A long time later Mia learned from another officer that there was video equipment in the courtroom and the incident was probably taped. She then learned the tape is only kept for 30 days before it was automatically erased. She knew it was gone at that point and broke down sobbing with the other officer which led to her telling about the incident.
Day 6 of the Trial
Jessica Lloyd of Mason County Day Report testified concerning what Mary had testified to previously. She was the person Mary initially stated the allegations to concerning Tucker. Lloyd testified to taking the initial comments from Mary and contacting other law enforcement including the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office. She also stated she helped arrange a meeting place for the BCI agent to interview Mary.
Todd Weaver of the Pike County Court System. Weaver serves as a bailiff and Chief Probation Officer. He testified that once a complaint was made by one of the female inmates being held at the Middleport Jail of the allegations against Tucker, Pike County removed all of their inmates including males from the Middleport Jail. Weaver stated he reported the allegations up the chain of command which included Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader. Weaver was also in the room when Sheriff Reader contacted Sheriff Wood concerning the allegations.
Another alleged victim, referred to as Mila, took the stand stating that Tucker had brushed passed her in the Meigs County Court of Common Pleas Courtroom while doing community service work after hours. She was cleaning the windows when he brushed past her touching her buttocks. “I just felt uncomfortable,” Mila said.
“There was nobody else in here. I didn’t really know how to act because he was my probation officer,” Mila said she eventually reported the incident to Meigs County Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie Mansfield.
Mila said while she was an inmate at the Middleport Jail, she didn not go out of the cell at night along with Tucker. She did state that she observed others that did.
Amanda Reed from the Meigs County Common Pleas Court briefly testified concerning Tucker passing notes to women.
Another alleged victim, to be referred to as Maggie, said Tucker wanted to get her alone. In addition to frequently smacking her buttocks, Maggie said Tucker informed her that, “We can take care of this if ride back down to the office with me.”
She had reported the issues she was having with Tucker and was supposed to get Tucker to meet her somewhere with law enforcement recording the encounter. Maggie had an accident, however, and was injured to the point she was hospitalized for some time. When she was released, her probation period had ended.
I knew from the day he was trying to flirt with me, that he was going to use it (authority) against me.Mora, an alleged victim of Larry Tucker
Alleged victim to be known as, Mora, said she picked up on Tucker’s alleged pattern of behavior. “I knew from the day he was trying to flirt with me, that he was going to use it (authority) against me,” Mora said. She was in the Diversion Program and had community service to complete.
Charlie Mansfield took the stand but following a round of side bar discussions, Mansfield was dismissed.
Meigs County Sheriff Major Scott Trussell testified briefly concerning Tucker and transporting female prisoners. Maj. Trussell said Tucker would volunteer to take them to the facilities such as the Star program. Maj. Trussell said he did not recall Tucker ever offering to take males on such transports, just female inmates. He also stated that having an inmate ride in the front seat was against the Sheriff’s Office protocol.
Day 7 of Trial
Alleged victim to be referred to by the Meigs Independent Press as Melany started off the day of testimony. She testified that Tucker came to her home late one evening, while checks are common when someone is on probation or diversion, there is more than just the probation officer visiting, other law enforcement officers accompany them. In this instance, Melany said Tucker was alone. She went to his car because her children were inside and she did not want to discuss her diversion program in front of them. She sat in the car with Tucker, both in the front seat. Melany stated she requested that he come another time, but instead he touched her breasts inside of her clothing. “I got out of the car and told him he should go home to his wife,” Melany said.
“He was in a position of authority over me. I had to do what asked me,” she said.Melany, an alleged victim of Larry Tucker
Another time Melany said Tucker called her and he was watching another probationer and he needed to meet with her. She was to meet him on Snowball Hill in Syracuse. “He was in a position of authority over me. I had to do what asked me,” she said.
Once in the car, Melany said Tucker commented if her breasts were real or not, reached over and touched her breasts. She got out of the car. “I told you I am not that kind of a woman,” Melany said and left.
Another alleged incident with Tucker and Melany happened in the jury room at the Meigs County Courthouse where Tucker allegedly exposed his penis to her. Melany said, “He exposed himself and said ‘what is it going to be.’”
Melany testified that she said “a few choice words” and fled the courthouse. Within a day or so, Melany was placed on Tucker’s Top 10 Most Wanted List. She had two months of diversion left with only her community service to complete. She had been clean since 2013, but was sentenced to 12 months in prison for violating the terms of diversion. “Who was going to believe me,” Melany said, “I was the criminal, he was the ‘respected’ probation officer.”
“This is very serious, it is a man’s life,” Melany testified, “What he did was wrong. He used his position of authority in a very sickening manner.”
Frank Stewart, previously with the Middleport Police Department and the Gallia-Meigs Major Crimes Task Force, testified concerning the procedures taken when allegations came forward about Tucker. He also testified to hearing a conversation in which a victim was attempting to get Tucker to meet her so law enforcement officers could gain evidence. That meeting did not take place.
Much of the afternoon on Day 7 was taken up with Middleport Assistant Police Chief and Jail Administrator Mony Wood on the stand. Asst. Chief Wood stated he had “no clue” as to why Tucker would take inmates out of the cell, especially at night and why Tucker permitted them in areas clearly restricted to them. Wood noted Tucker did not note in the CO log that he had taken inmates out of the cell. During the viewing of a security video, Wood stated an inmate, Mel, was seen going into the supply closet with Tucker. Later Mel can be seen in the control room with Tucker at a computer and appeared to be printing off things. Wood said inmates are not permitted in the supply closet or the control room at any time. A sign is posted stating so according to Wood. Wood also said that Tucker would “work for anyone” and picked up as many night shifts as he could. “I don’t know when he slept,” Asst. Chief Wood said. Wood also verified the time cards and when Tucker was working.
Day 8 of Trial
The state’s last witness was Special Agent Jonathon Jenkins with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (Ohio BCI). Special Agent Jenkins was the lead investigator on the case once Ohio BCI was called in by Sheriff Keith Wood. SA Jenkins stated he had been investigating major cases including the eight person murder case in Pike County.
Jenkins also said that it is typical for victims of sexual assault to delay reporting. He also testified to the method of investigating the case, the steps involved in collecting evidence and information. He also went through an extensive process of the verification of video, photographs and other documents in the case.
Following Jenkins testimony, the state rested the case at 11:28 a.m. McVey offered no witnesses for the defense. Tucker will be invoking his right not to testify and the defense rested their case as well.
Following an extensive listing of the 40 entries of evidence and a total of 24 witnesses for the state, the jury was admonished to not talk about the trial, read about or otherwise form any opinion on the case by Judge Lewis.
The prosecution and defense will give their closing arguments and the Judge Lewis will give final instructions tomorrow to the jury before they deliberate the case.