Patrick O’Donnell and his wife, Heather, who are both school superintendents in Ohio, are accused in connection with child rape charges.
O’Donnell, 52, is the superintendent at Indian Lake Schools in Logan County, Ohio, and his wife, Heather, is the superintendent at Midwest Regional Educational Service Center.
Both were indicted on July 11 in connection with the allegations. The couple has six children between them.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Patrick O’Donnell Is Accused of Molesting a Child
The husband is accused of molesting child under age 13 who was not a student in the district.
“Police allege he touched a girl inappropriately, including her private parts. Police said the girl told them the alleged incidents had occurred several times over a three-year span,” The Springfield News-Sun, which broke the story, reported.
O’Donnell, of Lewistown, was indicted on rape, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition charges.
2. Heather O’Donnell Is Accused of Not Reporting the Crime When the Child Confided in Her
Heather O’Donnell is not accused of the actual molestation; police allege she found out about it and didn’t do anything. Thus, she’s accused of child endangerment.
According to the Bellefontaine Examiner, police allege that Heather O’Donnell “was in a position to protect the victim from further abuse and did not report the allegations of abuse that occurred between 2013 and 2016.”
The accuser told Heather O’Donnell about the allegations at least twice, according to The Springfield News-Sun.
3. Patrick O’Donnell Is Accused of Equating the Allegations to ‘Wrestling’
When confronted about the allegations by his wife, Patrick O’Donnell is accused of trying to downplay them, reports the Bellefontaine Examiner.
The superintendent allegedly called them “accidents that may have happened while wrestling,” the newspaper reports.
The newspaper quoted an affidavit that says, “I spoke with Patrick O’Donnell. I confronted him with the allegations. Mr. O’Donnell would not admit the allegations, but would not call the minor child a liar. Eventually, he said if he touched her he never intended to. When told these allegations would eventually have to be tried in court, he stated that he would just admit the charge to avoid a trial.”
4. Patrick O’Donnell Was a School Superintendent for Seven Years
O’Donnell, who served as the district’s superintendent for seven years, is on unpaid leave while the School Board decides its next action.
According to The Springfield News-Sun, O’Donnell has been “ordered to stay at his residence during school hours and not to attend any school functions.” The newspaper reported that charges were previously dropped but then brought to a grand jury.
Indian Lake still has a superintendent’s message from Patrick O’Donnell on its website. It reads, in part, “Welcome to the new school year! We’ve been working diligently so that the 2016-2017 year can be our best one yet. In fact, I think the best days for Indian Lake Schools are still ahead of us.”
The message continued, “We continue to put education first at Indian Lake Local Schools. Several of our teachers have been awarded outside grant money to implement new and innovative programs designed to engage and inspire our students. Our administrators and staff are working hard everyday to connect with students and parents to make sure our young people have the tools they need to succeed. As a parent of two students in our schools, I am encouraged by the renewed enthusiasm I see on our campus.”
5. Heather O’Donnell Has Been a School Superintendent For a Decade
A message from O’Donnell is also still on her school district’s website. One part of it reads, “Strong Relationships Put Students, Parents, & Educators First.”
She also wrote, “In addition to managing much of the educational services within our three county region, MRESC operates the Opportunity School and SEED program at Sidney City Schools, and the virtual learning lab in Logan County.”
On LinkedIn, Heather O’Donnell wrote that she had held the position for 10 years. Her Facebook page is filled with family photos, pictures with her husband, and photos of trips they took together.
The school board announced on July 13 that it was meeting to consider Heather’s employment, saying that “O’Donnell has been assigned to her home during regular work hours. She is not permitted on ESC property or at ESC activities.”