Bellevue man gets jail for lewd acts

BELLEVUE A Bellevue man is going to jail for six months for having sex with a picnic table within vi
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010



A Bellevue man is going to jail for six months for having sex with a picnic table within view of a playground.

Art Price Jr., 40, 100 block Brinker St., pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor charges on Wednesday and was found guilty of one count of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.

The plea agreement wiped away two public indecency charges.

Figuring out what to charge Price with wasn't easy, said Huron County prosecutor Russ Leffler.

"Nothing really fit quite right, but this is what we were able to come up with," he said.

Price originally faced four felony counts of public indecency after he was caught on video using a metal picnic table to sexually pleasure himself behind his home. Those charges were dismissed in April by Leffler, who promised to file more appropriate charges at a later date.

A source that was never identified by authorities complained to police Price would saunter out to his back deck in the nude to masturbate. That source was encouraged to bring evidence of this activity to police after an officer unsuccessfully tried to catch Price in the act, police said.

The confidential source videotaped Price on several occasions between Jan. 29 to March 14 using the table's umbrella hole. Bellevue police charged Price with felony charges because of the proximity to an elementary school as his backyard directly faces Ridge Elementary School.

An investigation into the incident determined this was not the first time Price acted in a sexually aberrant manner.

Price was arrested in Tiffin and Bowling Green in the late 1980s on charges of voyeurism.

In September, October and December of 1987, Price was arrested and charged with voyeurism in three separate incidents. Each time, young women reported a man wearing a bandana over his face was peeking into their apartments and stimulating himself.

Tiffin Police also charged Price with voyeurism, which landed him in jail for four days.

In July 1989, a woman told police her 14-year-old daughter was going to take a shower when she found dirt at the bottom of the tub, a Tiffin police report said. Checking the tub, the mother found what appeared be shavings of some type, and then discovered a hole had been drilled through the bathroom wall from the utility room. The hole gave a clear view into the shower stall from the utility room.

Price, who was 21 at the time, was spotted by police bending over and stimulating himself while peeking through the hole, the report said.

The most serious of the new charges concerned disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. Leffler, who reviewed the videos of Price, said the sexually activities were "serious enough to be considered harmful to juveniles if they saw it." He added the school's proximity to Price's backyard was a consideration in the charge.

Price's attorney, John Allton, said his client's actions had nothing to do with the nearby school -- it was pure coincidence.

According to Allton, Price admits he needs help and is ready to move on with his life. Price is in counseling.

"He was a great guy and will be. He was a hard worker and church-goer, he's just flawed," Allton said. "There's something in him that he needs to fix."

The publicity surrounding Price's case has devastated his family, Allton said. Being the "laughingstock of the country" takes a terrible toll on a person and his loved ones.

At his sentencing, Price said he was ready to go to jail that day to put this behind him. He was taken into custody that afternoon.

After six months in the county jail, Price will be placed on probation for three years.