October 26, 2014

Elyria
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Joseph Allen opens bid for clemency

Joseph Allen has sent a packet of information to the Ohio Parole Board as part of a bid for clemency in the controversial Head Start child molestation case, but a board spokeswoman said Wednesday that the clemency application itself was not included.

Allen

Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the Parole Board has informed Allen’s attorneys of the missing application and expects to receive it soon.

Allen’s clemency efforts come months after Nancy Smith, his co-defendant in the case and who isn’t related to JoEllen Smith, asked Gov. John Kasich for clemency. Her case is now pending before the Parole Board, which held a hearing last month but has not yet submitted a recommendation to Kasich.

Both Smith and Allen insist they are innocent of the sex crimes of which they were convicted. They were accused in a 1994 trial of molesting 4- and 5-year-old children on Smith’s Head Start bus route.

Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge acquitted the pair in 2009 after their cases came before him because of technical flaws in the sentencing entries that sent them both to prison. Burge said at the time he reviewed the court transcripts and evidence in the case before coming to the conclusion that they were wrongly convicted.

The Ohio Supreme Court later ruled that Burge had overstepped his authority, but Smith and Allen have remained free, something that is being reviewed by the Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will has said he doesn’t oppose commuting Smith’s sentence to time served but won’t support a full pardon. Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said Wednesday that he has not seen what Allen submitted to the Parole Board and couldn’t comment.

Allen’s attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.