‘Way worse than stupid’: Ottawa man gets prison time in sex with minor case

OTTAWA — A 35-year-old Ottawa man said Monday it was a “stupid decision” to engage in sexual activity with a 14-year-old female earlier this year at a city park in the Putnam County seat.

Putnam County Common Pleas Court Judge Keith Schierloh told Garrett Howell his decision was “way worse than stupid” immediately prior to handing the man a 36-month prison sentence on a charge of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Howell was indicted by a Putnam County grand jury in July on the third-degree felony count. In October he entered into an agreement with prosecutors that called for him to plead guilty to the sole count of the indictment, with an agreed sentencing range of zero to 36 months in prison.

According to court records, Howell performed oral sex on a 14-year-old girl in May of this year while in a parked car at Ottawa Memorial Park.

The victim reportedly told police Howell had sent nude photos of himself to her on more than one occasion and had been texting with her for a few days prior to the incident.

“I am dumbfounded,” Schierloh told Howell in doling out the prison sentence. “You met up with an eighth-grade girl. Where did you think this would even remotely be acceptable? I’m really struggling with this, but I trust the state of Ohio and your attorney so I will follow their recommendation” for a prison sentence capped at three years.

Howell was labeled a Tier II sex offender and as such must register with local authorities every six months for the next 25 years.