ELYRIA – Heather Koon raped children at the Elyria day care center where she worked at the request of her registered sex offender boyfriend, James Osborne, prosecutors said during a court hearing Thursday.
“We’re not alleging that (Osborne) actually entered the day care center,” Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said. “We have a substantial amount of evidence showing that he was soliciting and aiding and abetting and they were being done at his behest by phone.”
Cillo’s comment came after Osborne’s defense attorney, Mike Duff, told county Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi that his client had never been inside ABC Kidz Child Care on Abbe Road in Elyria, where Koon is accused of sexually abusing a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old in March.
Koon, 25, is charged with two counts of rape and is being held on a $2 million bond. Osborne, 34, is charged with tampering with records, failure to register a change of address and two counts of complicity to rape. They could both get life in prison if convicted.
CountySheriff’s deputies and probation officers discovered images, including video, of the alleged rapes after seizing an iPhone and a laptop computer from Koon’s Blaine Street home in Elyria on Sept. 26.
Authorities had gone to the home because they suspected Osborne was living with Koon rather than at the Oberlin address he had registered with the sheriff’s office.
Duff denied Osborne was living with Koon.
“He was residing where he was supposed to be residing,” Duff said. “He would spend a couple nights with Heather Koon, all right, on weekends, but he did not reside there.”
But Cillo countered that Osborne was receiving mail at Koon’s house, and kept personal items there. He also said Koon has told investigators that Osborne’s mattress was at her house.
“We think that that was someplace he was trying to deceive the court and trying not to be monitored and we just happened to catch him, which is why he was confident enough to have those two devices ready at hand that he could get into the Internet with,” Cillo said.
Cillo also rejected Duff’s claim that any inappropriate images on Osborne’s phone had been downloaded from the Internet.
“We do say that the photographs are more than things that were downloaded from the Internet,” Cillo said.
Although Duff argued against a high bond for his client, who was already being held on a $75,000 bond by Elyria Municipal Court, Miraldi said he felt he needed to set a $1 million bond in the case.
“I think the public needs to be protected at this time until we have more facts,” he said.
Miraldi sentenced Osborne to five years of probation in 2011 after Osborne pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. That case grew out of inappropriate images discovered on his computer by repair technicians in 2007.
Miraldi said he imposed probation instead of prison in the case after a report prepared for him indicated that Osborne was a normal heterosexual male with no sexual interest in children. The judge had also warned Osborne that if he got into trouble he would go to prison for eight years.
“I felt that with eight years of prison hanging over his head that would do the trick if he really doesn’t have tendencies that the law doesn’t allow him to express or to infect others with his notion of what may be appropriate,” Miraldi said. “It is not appropriate and therefore things have changed.”
Deputies are continuing to investigate Koon and Osborne, including whether there are additional victims at ABC Kidz or other day care centers where Koon has worked.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.