December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Accused child molester says he’s being targeted in jail

James Osborne

James Osborne

ELYRIA — James Osborne has repeatedly refused to enter protective custody despite multiple disputes with his fellow inmates at the Lorain County Jail.

The most recent incident came Friday when another inmate, Bahlial Davis, allegedly threw “liquid feces” on the door of the cell Osborne was sharing with Luis Sanchez.

Jail Administrator Andy Laubenthal said Davis told guards he targeted Osborne and Sanchez “because they are (accused) child molesters.”

Osborne, 34, is facing a possible life prison sentence if convicted of charges he convinced his fiancee to molest children at the day care centers where she worked.

His fiancee, Heather Koon, also faces a potential life sentence for allegedly molesting several children, including a 1-year-old, and recording the sexual abuse.

Sanchez, 38, is facing a rape charge out of North Ridgeville for allegedly raping a girl under the age of 13.

Laubenthal said Friday’s feces incident came just days after a fight between Osborne and two other inmates who had entered his cell on Wednesday. The fight was purportedly over the jail’s commissary, but Laubenthal said the matter remains under investigation.

He also said that while Osborne claimed the other two inmates, Michael DeWitt and Dustin Price, were the aggressors, they have pointed the finger at Osborne as the instigator of the fight.

Osborne and one of the other men were treated at the jail for minor cuts and bruises.

DeWitt, Price and Davis have all been placed in administrative segregation and Osborne has been moved to another part of the jail, Laubenthal said. Once completed, the internal investigations on the two matters will be forwarded to prosecutors to review for possible charges against those involved.

Osborne also was punched in the mouth during a February altercation with yet another inmate that was determined to have been over the commissary, Laubenthal said. The other inmate in that incident, Mark Lacey, was disciplined.

Jail officials have had to bar Osborne from contact with 10 inmates in the facility, including several who had made comments concerning the sex charges he faces, although Laubenthal said it’s common to separate inmates for various reasons.

Laubenthal said Osborne has been offered protective custody several times, but each time he has refused. He said in the past prisoners have been forced to accept protection, but so far Osborne has been adamant that he wants to remain in the general population.

For now, Laubenthal said, corrections officers are doing what they can to avoid future problems while accommodating Osborne’s desire to remain in the general population.

“We will take steps to provide for his safety and security,” he said.

Mike Duff, Osborne’s attorney, said he would like his client to accept protection, but he can’t force him to do so.

“The nature of his offense riles up the other inmates to rough him up,” Duff said.

He also said that it’s not uncommon for those facing sex charges to be tormented by their fellow inmates.

“In the pecking order of prisoners, they’re the lowest,” Duff said.

Laubenthal conceded that the nature of the allegations against Osborne could be making his stay at the jail more difficult.

“The kind of charges that he has are unusual in the facility and that may be problematic,” he said.

Osborne hears voices, Duff has said, something that prompted him to enter a not guilty by reason of insanity plea for his client and seek to have Osborne undergo a mental health evaluation.

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