EATON — A Lakengren man convicted of gross sexual impostion in August has been granted a new trial.
Eric Kaye, 56, initially faced charges related to three alleged incidents of abuse toward an underage female family member. The family member in question is mentally and physically disabled and requires round-the-clock care.
Video clips of the alleged incidents were shown to the jury during the trial. Defense council Kyle Lennen challenged the admission of the videos at that time, however, claiming they simply depict the defendant providing routine care to the victim.
“There’s no evidence or even inkling of anything sexual in these videos,” Lennen said. “We have nothing here to validate these charges.”
Judge Stephen R. Bruns dismissed one of the three counts at that time but allowed the remaining two to go forward, though he admitted it was “a real close call” before ruling. Kaye was ultimately convicted on one of the remaining two counts.
Kaye appeared Wednesday, Sept 18, to ask the court for a new trial.
“I believe what’s shown in those videos is that Eric was moving the alleged victim up in her bed,” Lennen said during that hearing. “Any other testimony, as well as the jury’s verdict, is all other people’s interpretations of the video.”
Judge Bruns indicated the decision facing him was a difficult one.
“I have different factors pulling me different ways,” Bruns said. The defendant was scheduled to appear for sentencing Oct. 23. Bruns announced his decision to grant Kaye a new trial on Oct. 22.
In a written entry of his decision in the case, Judge Bruns noted that the defendant appears to place his hand inside the victim’s diaper for only one second, and that he also places his other hand behind the victim’s neck at the same moment and visibly adjusts her position in bed.
“There is no change in the defendant’s affect before, during, or after that contact,” Bruns writes. Bruns also noted that, while the alleged victim’s mother and a home care nurse both testified that there would be no reason for the defendant to touch the victim in this manner, another caregiver testified that this was Kaye’s normal method of lifting the victim when adjusting her position in bed.
“The court has reviewed more than a score of [similar] cases from around the State of Ohio,” Bruns writes. Bruns further noted that there was “simply no evidence on the video to support a finding that the defendant’s purpose was sexual gratification.”