CIRCLEVILLE — In April, The Circleville Herald reported of an announcement from Pickaway County Sheriff Matthew O. Hafey that the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office had been working with the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office and the Columbus Division of Police in a joint investigation of an alleged child sexual abuse.
PSCO was contacted in February by a third party who reported several people had been sexually assaulted. The assaults were reported to have occurred in Scioto, Pickaway and Franklin Counties.
The joint investigation resulted in an arrest warrant being issued in Scioto County.
On April 13, the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus Police Department, along with the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, executed a search warrant at the suspect’s residence located at 2630 Kingston Pike, Circleville, Ohio.
The suspect, identified as Michael Grashel, 53, was arrested on the Scioto County warrant and taken to the Pickaway County Jail.
After Grashel waived his right to a Rule 4 hearing, he was transported to Scioto County Jail.
In the search of Grashel’s residence, multiple images and videos were located that contained suspected child pornography.
Grashel was charged with 28 counts, all alleged to have occurred in Pickaway County, including one count of rape, a third-degree felony; five counts of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony; three counts of importuning, a third-degree felony; six counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a fifth-degree felony; one count of pandering obscenity involving a minor, a second-degree felony; and 12 counts of illegal use of minor in nudity-oriented material, a second-degree felony.
The State of Ohio, represented by Heather Carter, Pickaway County Assistant Prosecutor, prior to a Sept. 30, offered a plea bargain to Grashel.
The deal was to plea to one count of rape and one count of illegal use of nudity-oriented material or performance. The state would make a recommendation of 10 years to life as to the rape offense and four years as to the illegal use count.
Carter agreed to allow the court to determine whether consecutive sentences were appropriate in the case, rather than make a specific recommendation to that issue.
Mr. Grashel stated to Pickaway County Common Pleas Judge P. Randall Knece that he did not wish to accept the bargain Carter proposed.
After refusing the bargain, Judge Knece asked Grashel if he fully understood the deal and understood the consequences of not taking the deal. Grashel replied he understood.
By not taking the deal, Grashel agreed to go to trial for all counts against him. When the plea hearing ended, the bargain deal ended as well, making the trial date official and set for Monday, Oct. 4.
Scioto County has their own charges against Grashel pending at this time.