By BRIAN BOHNERT
The search for the suspect in a mid-June sexual assault reported in Bettsville ended Monday as a registered sex offender was arrested in the case.
Dale L. Powell, 58, whose last known address was listed as Port Clinton, was indicted by the Seneca County Grand Jury last week on charges of kidnapping, a first-degree felony; gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony; and abduction, a third-degree felony, court records state. According to reports, Powell is a registered sex offender in Ottawa County.
According to Sgt. Larry Mackling with the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office in a previous interview with the Review Times, a 16-year-old girl was walking in the area of the Bettsville Cemetery on Union Street in the village on June 16 when a male subject approached her and groped her.
The girl, a Bettsville resident, was able to “shoo” away the subject, who was described as being an average height Caucasian with medium build in his late 30s or early 40s with wavy brown hair, according to Mackling.
He was reportedly wearing a red and white polo shirt, jeans and black shoes with a black knee brace and crutches.
“It’s unknown why he had those items at this point,” Mackling said in the previous interview, referencing the knee brace and crutches. “However, when he saw her dialing for help, she said he took off running. Typically someone who relies on crutches doesn’t and can’t run without them.”
The victim called her father as she was running away who, in turn, called 911 shortly after 7 p.m. and, according to the media report, went looking for the suspect.
Mackling said the girl was not injured during the attempted assault.
Marathon, the fuel station located east of the cemetery at the intersection of Union and State streets, was able to provide video footage from a camera covering the intersection.
The suspect allegedly ran to a dark blue or dark green minivan and “peeled away from the scene,” according to Mackling. He was last seen eastbound on Union Street.
Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Steve C. Shuff set Powell’s bond at $500,000 Tuesday, court records state.
If convicted, Powell could face a maximum sentence of up to 15-and-a-half years in prison and up to a $35,000 fine.
A message seeking comment from Sgt. Kevin Reinbolt of the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office Detectives Bureau was not returned by presstime.
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