June 27, 2016

Partly cloudy

Child pornography nets jail time, probation

A 45-year-old Wadsworth man convicted of sharing child pornography from his home computer will spend six months in jail and five years on probation.

Stephen M. Petrush, of 149 Wolf Ave., pleaded guilty in October to seven counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, second-degree felonies.

Stephen M. Petrush will spend six months in the Medina County Jail and five years on probation for downloading and sharing more than 10 videos depicting children raped by adults. From left, Petrush, attorney Bob Campbell and county Assistant Prosecutor Matt Razavi. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler could have sentenced Petrush to eight or more years in prison.

At a hearing Thursday, Kimbler labeled Petrush a Tier II sex offender, meaning he must register with the Sheriff’s Office every six months for 25 years. Kimbler also banned Petrush from using computers, possessing pornography and having contact with non-relative juveniles while on probation.

Finally, Kimbler ordered Petrush, who was arrested in April following an investigation by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, to undergo mental health treatment and to obtain full-time employment in Medina County upon his release from jail.

“If you violate your terms of probation, I’ll send you to prison for five years,” Kimbler told Petrush.

Kimbler’s decision to put Petrush on probation followed a Dec. 12 hearing during which Petrush’s attorney, Bob Campbell, said his client downloaded and shared the files, but did not produce them.

Campbell said Petrush downloaded the files using a peer-to-peer sharing program, which automatically gives other people access to files on his computer.

“It’s a passive process,” he said. “No one requests to look at the items. He doesn’t have to click ‘yes’ to let them download from his computer.”

Kimbler delayed the sentencing hearing to Thursday so court investigators could look into whether he’d ever given probation to someone in a similar case.

An investigator Thursday said the judge had given probation to two others guilty of having child pornography.

Campbell argued his client should be put on probation and not prison because the charge against him was “less serious” than if he produced the files.

County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Razavi said last week the videos were “very serious” because they depicted children age 8 and younger being raped by adults.

Razavi said Petrush admitted he downloaded the videos intentionally and was attracted to “young girls.”

But Campbell said a psychiatrist indicated it was very unlikely Petrush would turn to “actual pedophilia.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.