(WKBN) – The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Friday that all charges in an indictment, even those that were dismissed, cannot be sealed until all charges are eligible to be concealed.
The decision reversed an Eight District Court of Appeals ruling in the case of a man, identified as G.K., who was indicted for rape along with another man, George Moses, in Cuyahoga County. The victim was a cognitively impaired relative of Moses.
Both men were also charged with gross sexual imposition and kidnapping.
Moses pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
According to G.K.’s attorney, prosecutors agreed to a plea deal with G.K. after it was discovered that he had not assaulted the woman. He pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and all other charges were dismissed. He was sentenced to community control.
Five years later, G.K. asked the court to seal the dismissed charges and he was initially granted his request on an appeal, even though the local prosecutor fought against it. However, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the Eight District Court of Appeals erred in siding with the prosecutor saying the plain language of Ohio statute governing the sealing of records does not permit sealing dismissed charges until all records in a criminal case are eligible to be sealed.
In addition, G.K. has a prior criminal record that prevented him from having the obstructing justice conviction sealed as well.
The judges were unanimous in the decision, however, Justice Maureen O’Conner wrote a concurring opinion highlighting the barrier that the nonconviction-sealing stature imposes on a defendant who was falsely charged, and then those charges are ultimately dismissed.
Changes to an Ohio stature must be addressed through the Ohio General Assembly.