LIMA — Ricardo Shears, 42, of Lima, maintained his innocence Monday even after he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for abusive treatment of two young girls with severe mental disabilities who were left in his care.
Indicted by a grand jury on six counts of assault, Shears in October accepted a deal from prosecutors where three counts were dismissed in exchange for guilty pleas on the remaining counts.
Prior to sentencing, a representative from Crime Victim Services read aloud a letter from the girls’ mother, in which she called Shears “a danger to society” and asked Judge Jeffrey Reed to impose the maximum possible sentence.
Both Shears and his attorney maintained the Lima man was simply attempting to help out a relative in caring for the young girls. Attorney Jerry Doute said his client “did the best he could” without ever receiving adequate training.
“This was not a job for a babysitter,” Doute said. “He (Shears) cared for these kids like he was told to care for them.”
Shears denied hurting the children.
“I’m not a caretaker; I’m their cousin. I don’t think this case should have come this far,” he said. “Those kids have never been hurt.”
According to court records, on May 7 a representative of the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities contacted the Elida Police Department to report the assault of two young female victims. The mother of the children provided video surveillance that allegedly showed Shears assaulting the 15-year-old and 13-year-old girls, both of whom are mute.
Both girls receive services through Marimor School, operated by the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
The woman told police that Shears had often watched the girls while she was at work but noted that the girls had begun to act “differently” in the days leading up to alleged incidents, according to court documents. She installed a video camera in her bedroom and told investigators that on May 6 she watched on video as Shears grabbed one of the girls, who was seated on the floor, by her hair and dragged her for approximately 4 feet. In a separate incident, according to the woman, Shears is seen grabbing the other girl by the head and slapping her in the back of the head while trying to give her medicine.
Reed on Monday took a brief recess and went to his office to view the surveillance video. Upon his return to the courtroom, the judge described what he’d seen as disturbing.
“I can’t imagine under any circumstances why you would pull a child by the hair,” he said.
As Shears protested, saying that the images do not accurately portray what was happening on the day in question, Reed gave the defendant the opportunity to withdraw his guilty pleas. Shears declined.