He was given credit for four days, leaving 56 to be served. Darke County Common Pleas Judge Jon Hein advised Lear to use his time well in jail. He told Lear he had a choice; he could choose to do better or follow the path of those he saw around him going downhill.
“Put out the effort,” Hein said. “You’ll be just fine.”
Lear, who lives in Miami County, will serve his time in Darke County and also will owe 80 hours of court ordered community service.
He will be required to maintain a job but will be on work release, take sex offender education, provide a DNA sample, submit to drug tests and pay court costs at approximately $25 a month for a year. He will be responsible for restitution through the end of the year and, by law, must register as a Tier 1 sex offender for 15 years.
Lear was originally charged with Sexual Conduct with a Minor, a Felony 3 offense. However at the time of the pending trial in August the victim couldn’t be found to testify. Lear was willing to plead down to the Felony 4. The victim and her family were later found in Virginia and, according to Darke County Prosecutor Kelly Ormsby, were fine with the plea agreement.
“The victim was 14. He was 26. The state requests the court strongly consider 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, restitution, court costs and community service,” Ormsby said.
Lear’s attorney, David Rohr, said he wouldn’t try to downplay Lear’s behavior, but didn’t see him as a repeat offender.
“Joe never once made an excuse, never once blamed the victim,” Rohr added. “I don’t think this court will see him again.”
Lear stood, saying “I do apologize. I try to live with this day after day.” Breaking into tears he said he wanted to tell the family how sorry he was.
Lear’s mother, who had been sitting quietly in the back of the courtroom, asked if a girl who says she is 18 shouldn’t take some responsibility.
Hein said that was a fair question but not one he could answer since he isn’t the one filing charges. Rohr said he didn’t disagree with the mother but acknowledged Lear knew at some point she was 14. Ormsby said, “she said she was 15, he said he thought she was 16,” adding no one had ever said anything about her being 18.
Prior to passing sentence, Hein said this was a serious crime… “How do we deal with this, Mr. Lear?”
He added some dig a deeper hole for themselves while some take this as a life lesson.
“In the long run, this could make you a better person.”