A Sandusky man is now behind bars after he allegedly gifted three teenage sisters with lavish trips and presents last summer, then persuaded them to perform sex acts on him in exchange.
James Clinton, 30, of the 800 block of Warren St., was arrested Friday and charged with two counts of rape, and one count each of gross sexual imposition and corruption of a minor.
The Sandusky girls, who were between the ages of 13 and 16 at the time of the alleged abuse, told investigators that Clinton befriended their family prior to the incidents. He even said he wanted to be their godfather, Sandusky police Detective Dana Newell said.
In the summer of 2013, Clinton showered the sisters with gifts. He took them on trips as well—sometimes locally and sometimes out of state, but oftentimes ending with an overnight hotel stay, Newell said.
During those interactions, Clinton also allegedly tried to introduce them to alcohol and marijuana.
“He would basically get them alone and was like 'OK, I did this stuff for you; what are you willing to do for me?' Then he'd start talking about sexual acts he'd want done to him,” Newell said.
Newell went on to say this case was not the first time Sandusky police received complaints about Clinton.
“We've had previous complaints that were very similar, but for one reason or another it just wasn't proven at the time. (There was) the same MO of (Clinton) meeting kids and befriending them,” Newell said.
Sandusky police Detective Ken Nixon said those previous accusations also centered around Clinton allegedly taking those girls to hotel rooms and getting them drunk. Nixon said he suspected some of those victims did not come forward out of fear of retaliation.
But not only have there been previous complaints, Clinton even tried to open a teen club in downtown Sandusky two years ago, Newell said.
At the time, Clinton told the Register he had a “zero tolerance” policy for drinking, smoking and drugs. He also said the club's target market was teens aged 13-17, with 18-year-olds allowed if they were still in school.
“The teens around here, they really need somewhere to go,” Clinton told the Register in 2012.
In early 2014, relatives of the three sisters began to get suspicious of Clinton's “over-friendliness,” Newell said.
The girls' parents began asking questions and the trio finally confided what had been going on, Newell said.
Sandusky police interviewed Clinton, but he denied the allegations and insisted he was just trying to help.
An Erie County grand jury, however, opted to indict Clinton on the four felony charges.
Clinton remains in the Erie County jail on $105,000 bond.