Attorney Pleads Guilty

In Statehouse Sex Sting

By: TV 10 NEWS

Presented By

Bonnie M. Wells


Attorney Pleads Guilty In Statehouse Sex Sting


April 1, 2008 LEBANON, Ohio

An attorney arrested in the Ohio Statehouse basement in an Internet child-sex sting pleaded guilty Tuesday to two charges.

Barry Mentser, 48, of Gahanna, pleaded to importuning and attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, his attorney and a prosecutor said. Authorities dropped a charge related to spreading material harmful to juveniles.

The former Franklin County children's services attorney was arrested Oct. 31 in Columbus in a sting set up by a Hamilton Township police detective who had posed online as a 15-year-old girl.

Sentencing was scheduled May 14 in southwest Ohio's Warren County. Mentser's attorney, Charles Rittgers, said he could face a sentence ranging up to 18 months in prison.

"He's taken responsibility for what he did, and he's ready to try to move on and deal with this the best he can," Rittgers said, adding that Mentser, who has been free on bond, had no prior criminal record.

Andy Sievers, an assistant prosecutor, said the county would press for prison time.

"This is a defendant who knows the law and the ramifications of breaking the law," Sievers said. "He was bold enough and desperate enough to arrange for the meeting."

The Hamilton Township police officer who conducted the sting was in Columbus testifying in a hearing about legislation on Internet sexual predators the day of the arrest. Undercover Columbus police officers said they spotted Mentser in the Statehouse cafeteria.

Lt. Jeff Braley of the southwest Ohio township said he had been communicating with the man for about a year before arranging the meeting.

Mentser was a staff attorney for Franklin County Children's Services from 1987 to 1990, when he resigned, agency spokeswoman Kay Marshall said after the arrest. He had no direct contact with children outside of court while employed there and no complaints were filed with the agency about him, Marshall said.

 


Other Articles

November 1st, 2007

Alleged Internet Predator

Arrested At Statehouse

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A man was arrested Wednesday morning at the Ohio Statehouse after authorities said he set up a meeting with a 14-year-old girl who he thought was visiting the building on a field trip.

According to police, Barry Mentser (pictured, right) chatted with an officer posing as a teenage girl on the Internet for about a year before the meeting was arranged, 10TV's Maureen Kocot reported.

Investigators told 10TV News that Mentser, 48, asked the teenager to meet him outside of the Statehouse's cafeteria. It was there that Mentser was taken into custody, Kocot reported.

"He actually came into the Statehouse, which we weren't sure he was going to do," said Hamilton Township police Lt. Jeff Braley. "If this doesn't illustrate how far they'll go, I don't know what will."

While Mentser was placed under arrest, an Ohio Senate hearing was taking place upstairs where lawmakers were discussing a bill that would strengthen penalties against cyber predators.

An officer testifying before a committee on Senate Bill 183 left the hearing after telling reporters that he had arranged a meeting with a man who thought he was meeting a teenage girl on a field trip.

"According to (Mentser's) e-mails, it was his intent to lure this juvenile away from the field trip that she was supposedly on," Braley said. "The drive in these guys for the contact with a juvenile is so strong that there's not a lot that's going to deter them."

Republican State Senator Tim Schaffer said that more needs to be done to stop online predators from reaching out to children.

"It's infuriating that these predators who want to do harm to our children and our families can get off with so little time," Schaffer said. "This is a growing crime and we've got to make sure we're protecting our families and sending a strong message to these predators that you're going to do time in prison if you do this offense."

Mentser, a New Albany resident who works as an attorney, was charged with felony attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a child, Kocot reported.

10TV News learned that from 1987 to 1990 Mentser worked for Franklin County Children Services where he once represented a 12-year-old boy who had been allegedly molested by a priest, Kocot reported.

Police said they would search Mentser's home in an attempt to locate his computer.

Bond Set For Attorney

Accused Of Soliciting Sex

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A Franklin County judge placed an attorney under $50,000 bond Thursday, one day after the lawyer was arrested and charged with attempting to solicit sex online.

Barry Mentser is charged with unlawful sexual contact with a minor, a third-degree felony that carries a prison sentence of up to five years, 10TV's Maureen Kocot reported.

The judge ordered Mentser to not have any Internet activity or unsupervised contact with children.

Investigators said Mentser, 48, had been communicating with a person who he thought was a 14-year-old girl. A meeting was arranged and the arrest took place at the Ohio Statehouse.

Mentser's attorney, Steve Palmer, said that the arrest is taking a toll on his client who has practiced law in Columbus for years.

"It's obviously emotionally traumatic on everybody - (Mentser), his family - you can imagine what this would do to a family, just having the allegation," Palmer said.

Mentser, who has a wife and children, hung his head during Thursday's proceeding. However, none of his family members were in the courtroom, Kocot reported.

In a search warrant obtained by 10TV News, Mentser allegedly told authorities that he appeared online by the user name, 'mentslaw,' and admitted to sending the officer nude photographs, Kocot reported.

According to police, during the chats Mentser wrote that he was using his computer at his office on South Front Street. Authorities later served a search warrant and left the building with evidence.

While Mentser was placed under arrest earlier this week, an Ohio Senate hearing was taking place upstairs where lawmakers were discussing a bill that would strengthen penalties against cyber predators.

An officer testifying before a committee on Senate Bill 183 left the hearing after telling reporters that he had arranged a meeting with a man who thought he was meeting a teenage girl on a field trip.

10TV News learned that from 1987 to 1990 Mentser worked for Franklin County Children Services where we once represented a 12-year-old boy who had been allegedly molested by a priest.




Starlight Inner-Prizes.Com

Law & Order In The News

Bonnie M. Wells



April 1st, 2008 // BMW