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Protecting families

Matt Westerhold • Jan 14, 2014 at 7:04 AM

In Sandusky County, law enforcement is a family business.

Sheriff Kyle Overmyer is the son of a retired sheriff's deputy and one of the men in charge today. His brother-in-law is sheriff's Captain Michael Meggitt.

The chief deputy is Bruce Hirt, whose son-in-law, Zach Zender, was recently promoted to detective with the Sandusky County sheriff's office.

Sheriff Overmyer's sister, Tracy Overmyer, is the Sandusky County clerk of courts.

Franklin Kaiser, a fired jail guard supervisor, is the son of former Sandusky County sheriff's deputy Bill Kaiser, who retired from the sheriff's office and now is a double-dipper working for Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt.

Franklin Kaiser got kicked out of the family business, however, when he was fired in early-2012 after allegedly participating in, and allowing, a 21-year-old schizophrenic inmate who was denied her medication to be sexually exploited for hours in an observational jail cell.

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The firing was slow in coming, however, and it didn't happen until after the Register learned of the incident and reported on it. And it wasn't the first troubling incident involving Franklin Kaiser.

After the firings, Sheriff Overmyer and Stierwalt's office made a deal with Franklin Kaiser to pay him and another involved jail guard $5,000 each in taxpayer money for their silence concerning that vulnerable woman's exploitation for Frank Kaiser's and the other jail guard's sexual gratification.

The $10,000 payout approved by Stierwalt is in addition to paid-leave costs taxpayers shouldered for Frank Kaiser and the other guard for more than a month.

And, if not for an anonymous tip to the Register, there's likely a chance the jail guards involved would never have been fired at all. The entire messy situation likely could have been buttoned up and deep-sixed, never to be revealed to the public.

When Stierwalt was forced to reveal details after a public records request from the Register, he released a report filed by the Fremont Police Department that appears to be an attempt at a whitewash, or was whitewashed after it was filed.

Stierwalt left the exploited inmate's name in the report, but he blacked-out the names of the jail guards, including Frank Kaiser, the son of his trusted employee. There doesn't appear to have been any compassion for the victim from the prosecutor, but he seems to have been intent on protecting the guards by redacting their names.

“These are the kind you can talk to because whatever you say, no one will ever believe because they are crazy,” one of the unidentified guards, with apparent experience exploiting mentally ill people at the jail, told another guard, according to the Fremont police report.

Stierwalt appears never to have taken any effective action other than to arrange paying the guards for their silence and protecting their identities, while at the same time he offered no similar consideration for the victim, leaving her name in the report.

Overmyer was content.

“I believe the incident has been fairly and justly dealt with in accordance with the high standards of service that is expected by employees of the Sandusky County sheriff's office and that the public deserves,” Overmyer said in a prepared statement in late February 2012, after the firings and payouts to the guards.

Stierwalt also took no apparent corrective action when an inmate died of asphyxiation after Franklin Kaiser allegedly shattered the cartilage in the inmate's neck and left him to die on a shower room floor at the jail in 2007, according to court documents. 

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Welcome to Sandusky County, a place to live, grow and die always fearful of the public officials voters elect and the “high standards” they maintain.

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