ASHLAND -- A Crestline man, whose case drew national attention early in the COVID-19 pandemic, faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. by Ashland County Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald P. Forsthoefel.
On Friday, Sept. 25, an Ashland County Jury found Seth Whited guilty of third-degree felony Endangering Children, and fifth-degree felony Unauthorized Use of Computer, Cable, or Telecommunication Property. The jury found Whited not guilty of an additional count of Unauthorized Use of Computer, Cable, or Telecommunication Property.
That verdict was reached after a four-day jury trial.
"I am a believer in the old adage that justice delayed is justice denied," Ashland County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher R. Tunnell said. "I'm glad we finally got Whited in front of a jury and glad the child, his mother, and the law abiding citizens of Ohio get justice."
Whited was indicted in May of 2019, but gained national notoriety due to COVID-19. Whited's attorney at the time, Adam Stone, of Crestline filed a Writ of Prohibition with the Ohio Supreme Court against Judge Ronald P. Forsthoefel to prevent the Court from holding a jury trial while COVID-19 emergency orders were in effect. That was after numerous prior continuances in the case, the Ashland County Prosecutor's office noted.
When the Ohio Supreme Court denied the Writ, the case was rescheduled for trial. Attorneys working on behalf of Stone filed a second Writ with the Ohio Supreme Court to again prevent the trial from going forward. The second Writ also failed.
When Stone withdrew from the case, he was replaced by Attorney Dean Henry of Tiffin, who ultimately took the case to trial.
The case was prosecuted on behalf of the State by Assistant Ashland County Prosecuting Attorney Victor Perez.
"The truth still matters in Ashland County," Perez said.
Tunnell said last week's trial was conducted in accordance with the same orders and protocols that would have been in place had the case proceeded to trial earlier in the year.
Tunnell stated the Endangering Children charge stems from a November 2018 report to the Ashland County Department of Job and Family Services that Whited physically abused a 15-month-old child. Specifically, Whited held the child under water, leaving bruising to the child's face and forehead, in retaliation for the child soiling himself.
The Prosecutor said the Unauthorized Use of Computer, Cable, or Telecommunications Property charge, of which he was found guilty, stems from a January 2019 incident when Whited gained unauthorized access to Ashland City School District computers in an effort to retaliate against the child's mother, then an employee of the district.
Perez noted that the case would not have been won without the assistance of the Ashland Division of Police and Akron Children's Hospital.