By Wayne Gates –
Thomas Sawyers pleaded guilty to two felony counts on Jan. 17.
They were Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, a first degree felony, and Compelling Prostitution, a third degree felony.
The 71 year old Sawyers will be sentenced Jan. 29. He will also be required to register as a Tier 2 sex offender.
The corrupt activity charge was filed against Sawyers on August 10 of last year. The Compelling Prostitution is a lesser charge from a 26 count indictment filed against Sawyers on June 29. The original charge was Trafficking in Persons-Commercial Sex Acts, which is a first degree felony.
The plea came the next morning after Sawyers, his attorney and members of the Brown County Prosecuting Attorney’s office spent much of Tuesday, Jan. 16 in discussions.
Sawyers was facing ten first degree felony charges and 15 drug charges in a trial that was scheduled to begin on Monday, Jan. 22.
Prior to the plea, Gusweiler was considering three motions from Sawyer’s attorney David Grimes.
Grimes had asked Gusweiler not to allow “Anything related to Melissa Boling” as evidence in the case because her name is “irrelevant to all counts in the indictment.”
In a response from the Brown County Prosecutor’s Office filed on Jan, 16, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Breyer responded that evidence regarding Boling was central to the case.
“The State of Ohio intends to prove through circumstantial evidence that the defendant (Sawyers) engaged in trafficking in drugs with Melissa Boling and that he used her addiction to coerce her into having sex with him when she otherwise would not have done so. As such, evidence regarding Melissa Boling is directly relevant to proving the charges contained in the indictment.”
Breyer also wrote that “In the instant case, the death of Melissa Boling due to an opioid overdose led to the investigation of this entire matter. Family members of the deceased revealed an expanding network of contacts all leading back to the defendant and his propensity to exchange drugs for sexual activity and his plan to exploit the illness of addiction and its symptoms to coerce women to engage in sexual conduct when they otherwise would not.”
Breyer also wrote that “The evidence regarding Melissa Boling and the defendant demonstrates the defendant’s scheme in his ‘grooming’ of potential victims and his plan to take advantage of thier addiction. Shortly after she performs some meaningless ‘work’ for the defendant, she has access to opioids which she consumes in an attempt to address her addiction. And while she is in the process of dying, the defendant is texting her to arrange a meeting. Evidence will show the specific and criminal nature of that intended meeting.”
Sawyers, who was injured in a farming accident prior to being indicted, remains on house arrest on a $100,000 bond until his sentencing.