November 21, 2014

Partly cloudy

Joseph Allen cuts a deal for reduced prison sentence

ELYRIA — A sobbing Joseph Allen was led out of a Lorain County courtroom in handcuffs Tuesday after being ordered back to prison in the controversial Head Start child molestation case.

The return to prison came after Allen, 60, agreed to a deal with prosecutors that saw him receive a new sentence of 10 to 25 years in prison with credit for time served.

Attorney K. Ronald Bailey comforts a weeping Joseph Allen as a deputy gets set to handcuff Allen and return him to prison Tuesday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Attorney K. Ronald Bailey comforts a weeping Joseph Allen as a deputy gets set to handcuff Allen and return him to prison Tuesday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

“Although it isn’t everything we’d hoped for, it is certainly a lot better than what was previously imposed,” Allen’s defense attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, said.

Allen was originally sentenced to multiple consecutive life prison terms and had served roughly 15 years before he was released, along with co-defendant Nancy Smith, by county Common Pleas Judge James Burge in 2009 because their original 1994 sentencing entries failed to note they had been convicted by a jury.

Burge ultimately acquitted Smith and Allen, who have long maintained their innocence and denied knowing each other, after concluding that he had “no confidence” in the guilty verdicts handed down by the jury. The acquittals were later overturned on appeal, although Burge never ordered the pair returned to prison.

Smith cut a deal with prosecutors in June that saw her avoid going back to prison by acknowledging the jury’s findings and accepting reduced charges in exchange for a sentence of 12 years in prison, less time that the nearly 15 years she actually spent behind bars. She had originally been sentenced to 30 to 90 years in prison.

Allen’s convictions on gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious sexual penetration and four counts of rape were only slightly modified as part of the agreement to allow for the reduced prison sentence.

Burge, who championed Allen and Smith’s innocence even before he removed himself from the case earlier this year, said he had hoped for a different result from Tuesday’s hearing.

“I am sure there are worse days in the history of the criminal justice system, I just can’t think of when that would have been,” Burge said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Allen will be required to register as a habitual sexual offender for 10 years after he is released from prison, a condition not imposed on Smith. Under the laws in effect at the time, only sex offenders with previous convictions were required to register.

Allen, like Smith, also agreed not to pursue further legal efforts to overturn his conviction and not to sue over the case.

Unlike at Smith’s hearing in June when the courtroom was packed with supporters and media, Allen was accompanied to court by only a handful of family and friends. They offered comforting words to Allen before he left the courtroom in the custody of deputies.

Family friend Jerry Jones called the agreement a “travesty” that had put Allen in the impossible position of choosing between a long prison term and a longer prison term.

“Give a man a choice between 200 years and 10 to 25? What kind of stuff is that?” Jones said. “Ain’t the man went through enough with 15 years for something he didn’t do?”

But prosecutors argued that Smith and Allen’s circumstances were different. Smith didn’t have a criminal record when she was convicted of the charges she took 4- and 5-year-old students to Allen’s home to be molested.

Allen does have a criminal record, including a 1985 sexual battery conviction in a case that centered on accusations he molested two 7-year-old girls, Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Allen also was convicted of murder for killing 72-year-old Ruth Greaney with a hammer in 1975 at the Boston apartment building where he worked as a handyman, Cillo wrote.

Court documents indicate that although Allen originally confessed to the murder, he later tried to shift blame for the killing to one of his brothers. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts later threw out the murder conviction because a lie detector test Allen took was improperly used in the trial. Allen was never retried in the murder case, Cillo wrote.

There also were several accusations of improper sexual conduct by Allen in the 1990s in LorainCounty, although Cillo wrote that Allen was never prosecuted in connection with those allegations.

allen-plea-2County Prosecutor Dennis Will said he worked with attorneys representing Smith and Allen to arrive at a just resolution in each case.

“We tried to arrive at a conclusion that was fair for everyone involved and still protected the public,” Will said.

Will said he wouldn’t have accepted a lesser sentence for Allen and doesn’t believe Visiting Judge Virgil Lee Sinclair Jr., who took over the case from Burge, would have either.

The deal comes on the same day that the Ohio Parole Board made public its recommendation that Gov. John Kasich reject Allen’s application for executive clemency.

The Parole Board made the same recommendation in August about Smith’s bid for a pardon, which was based in part on an expert’s review that said the testimony of the victims was tainted by their parents, media coverage of the case and suggestive interview techniques used by investigators.

Burge also made an emotional plea during a January Parole Board hearing for Smith to receive a full pardon.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the governor has not taken any action on Smith’s clemency request.

Allen’s clemency application was based on much of the same information Smith used in hers, however he never appeared before the Parole Board in Columbus to argue his case.

But Allen may find himself in front of the Parole Board soon.

JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said that because of the time Allen has already spent behind bars, he will immediately be eligible for parole.

That’s no guarantee that he will be released. When Smith first went before the Parole Board seeking a release in 2007, she was rejected because she refused to admit she was guilty, prompting the Parole Board to conclude she was in “denial.”

Will said he couldn’t say exactly how he would respond to a parole request from Allen. But he said if Allen is released there would need to be some form of monitoring.

“Clearly one of my biggest concerns was supervision of him,” Will said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

  • tickmeoff

    “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. These words have never rung more hollow! It’s verdicts such as this, that says to me, “That once you have a record, whether you were convicted or not will be held against you”. Basically if you are a man in this society, you are a target, and if you are a black man, an even bigger target. The man did his time, at what point has he paid his punishment? Does the day ever come? Maybe it’s better to go down in a flurry of bullets, rather than take your chances in court! What a travesty of justice. What an evil man our prosecutor truly is. God willing may I never have to face this ungodly man who represents us. This decision truly makes you lose any confidence one ever had in the justice system!

  • JoAnn Hullman Porter

    This is just awful. I remember this case way back then… wasnt there alot of money paid out to the “then Victims” and Im sure some promations were given aswell. It seems to me That Ohio has a hard time doing the right thing here…. If you watch other states with simular cases they will go back and correct them instead of continueing to cover them up. Which is my opinion as I know alot of money was paid out and the fact that both plea agreements include not to sue….. If these two have rights to sue then why isnt there a better answer than this? Im somewhat offendid because how do I trust me and my children are being protected- or that- a man and women may have been imprisioned wrongfully to protect myself and family? This is just coocoo and elected officials should be expected to do better than this.

  • Paul Facinelli

    Years ago, Greg White and I were talking in a corridor at the Chronicle-Telegram, discussing discovery filings in the Head Start case. He pointed out accurately that the prosecution, in this case and all others, supplies much more information to the defense than the defense does to the prosecution. I said that seemed fair since the prosecution’s mandate is justice. To ensure justice, to ensure that innocent people don’t go to jail, the defense should have the information that could be exculpatory. White, openly and without embarrassment, scoffed at the idea that the prosecution’s primary goal is justice. The goal is to win, he said. This attitude, this sickening attitude, is the basis of the atrocity that is the Head Start case. Mix in a mega-dose of political ambition and you have a perfect storm of power that resulted in two destroyed lives. Yesterday, Dennis Will, a stooge in the White/Rosenbaum regime, continued the sordid legacy of his predecessor, arguing for the re-imprisonment of a manifestly innocent man. Imagine. You know someone’s innocent. Yet you use your power to send him back to prison anyway. What sort of person does that? Permit me: A barely human being who relies on process rather than principle, who treats everything in his purview as a contest, with people’s lives transformed into game pieces. Will is despicable. It’s hard to imagine anything more immoral than what he did yesterday. It was a proud day for Tony Cillo, too. Not often you get to be the point man for evil. It’s times like these that I regret that I’m an atheist. I’d like to believe that a harsh judgment awaits these vermin in suits. Alas, I can’t. After all, last November Dennis Will was re-elected. Lorain County loves him. Rah. And how ’bout that Greg White, huh? U.S. Attorney, federal magistrate. What a career, earthly rewards beyond measure. But I wonder if he thinks about this case and all its horrors. Nah, probably not. Have a restful night, Mr. Magistrate. You’re quite the guy. You won.

    • Denise Caruloff

      oh Paul…words cant even convey what regurgitated injustice has been served to both Joseph and Nancy…as I said to a friend today…if they are able to is by way of sleeping hanging up side down…You know the case inside and were right on it….what will the Gov do…I fear I already know that answer….Rosenbum …karma…may other come to know her.

    • Don Grantzki

      These rats seem to have inside information that hell doesn’t exist. I suspicion much the same, myself. However, I see no reason to use this knowledge to harm people just so I can move up the public parasite ladder.

    • josh simmons

      Paul, you are the vermin, why don’t you mention Jon Rosenbaum’s name are you nervous he might kick your butt again. Get a real life Paul and be somebody, which you never were….

      • Denise Caruloff

        not nice j.

  • solonggone

    This is real sad.The man has already served 15yrs!Another 10yrs is ridiculous!

  • Don Grantzki

    Once the dimwitted judge refused to let the jury see the tapes of the children being coached to say what the state wanted to hear, the defendants had no chance. Add to that Allen’s “crime” of being black and with a record, and he was further doomed.

    • Denise Caruloff

      paul Orlowski doing a story ch 19 …4pm

    • josh simmons

      Don, FYI, both J Grunda and J Bradley were given copies of the line up tape. Get the facts, before you react…They could have shown the tape to the jury…..

      • Jesus fan

        Jack bradley is a sorry attorney. He is only out for money and alls I have seen from him was people thrown behind bars who have been innocent. Nobody gets a fairchance with him. Never use jack bradley!

  • josh simmons

    Joe Allen is already a convicted child molester from Head Start in 1984. Joe also killed a lady in New Jersey and did time, but got off on a technicality. Folks like Paul assanellie love these people. Birds of a feather flock together. Mention J.E.R’s name Pauie, :”chicken”…lol

  • josh simmons

    Do you think you will have to make a public apology again Paulie….like the last time you messed up..award winning journalist, Ya Right maybe for the cover of “I never knew how to write”..

  • josh simmons


  • Vanessa Vernell Baker

    I hope they don’t think they are going to heaven for this,how can u try a man twice,and the ding bat court appointed lawyer your day is coming too,hope all involved rest peacefully cause before u die, baby the truth will come out it always does and God is going to protect Mr.Joseph Allen so he can have his day of rejoicing when he sees all involved suffering TWICE as much as he did.

    • Jesus fan

      You are absolutely correct. God knows every step we take. Never trust your judicial system. Only trust in God. We all go through things in life that god already has planned for us just to streghten and make us open our eyes. Mr. Allen, god has a plan for you just keep strong and walk this storm out because he will take care of you.

  • givemeabreak1234

    this system should be ashamed of itself. they should all pray they don’t go to he!! for this