July 30, 2014

Medina
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Police: North Randall cop found with sex offender, topless dancer, 17

BRUNSWICK — A North Randall auxiliary officer was removed from the department after he was found in a car outside a strip club with a registered sex offender and a 17-year-old girl who worked as a topless dancer, according to police.

At 2:22 a.m. Oct. 11., Matthew R. Byrd, 31, of Strongsville, was in a car with registered sex offender Michael W. Sperber, 28, also of Strongsville, in the Christie’s Cabaret parking lot on Pearl Road. The men were headed to a hotel room with two 18-year-old women and the 17-year-old girl, all from North Ridgeville, according to Brunswick police.

Sperber was charged with rape in 2004. He pleaded guilty to sexual battery and gross sexual imposition and served two years in the Lorain Correctional Institution, according to online court records. Those same records show he was ordered to register as a sex offender for 20 years after a Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court judge ruled he was a “habitual sex offender.”

North Randall Police Chief Ronald Mosley said as soon as he learned Byrd was in a car with Sperber and the 17-year-old girl, he was released from the department and asked to turn in his equipment.

Mosley said Byrd was sworn in as an officer just a few days before the Oct. 11 incident. He said Byrd was certified as a peace officer in Ohio, but said his department hadn’t had the chance to put him to work yet.

“He came in to get his badge, the day after (he was sworn in),” Mosley said. “That was it, all we heard from him, until we received a phone call from (Brunswick) and they said they had stopped him in the company of a sex offender.”

Mosley said auxiliary officers work about 24 hours a month for the department, helping to fill in on shifts and perform other duties on a commission basis. As an officer, he would have been qualified to make arrests and carry a firearm. Mosley said the department expects its officers to act appropriately both on and off the clock.

“We have what’s called ‘unbecoming of a police officer,’ “ Mosley explained. “Not knowing him very well and considering the company he was in because of the age of the girl and the registered sex offender, we just let him go immediately.”

Police initially arrived at Christie’s Cabaret on a theft of boots complaint from another dancer at the club, which features topless dancers. While questioning the North Ridgeville women, they found two had used false identification in their employment documentation at Christie’s and one was only 17 years old.

The 17-year-old initially told police Byrd and Sperber were her cousins, but later admitted she had met them at the club that night. She told officers they planned to go to a hotel room to smoke marijuana.

Byrd and Sperber were questioned by Brunswick police and released without charges. The two women, Leanna Long and Ashley Turner, both 18, were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and child endangerment after admitting to officers they knew the girl was younger than 18, according to police.

Turner also was charged with theft of the boots. Juvenile charges are pending against the 17-year-old.

The details of the investigation have been forwarded to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Julie Hinds, a spokeswoman for the department, said the Ohio Investigative Unit, formerly known as the Ohio Board of Liquor Control, could look into possible charges against the club, which could result in fines and license suspensions by the Ohio Liquor Commission.

Contact Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.