Preble County, Ohio Prosecutor's OfficeMartin P. Votel, Prosecuting Attorney

Prosecutor Votel Announced Rape Conviction

Published on September 28th, 2017


Franklin B. Gross, age 49, of College Corner, Ohio has been convicted by a Preble County jury of Rape and Gross Sexual Imposition.

A Preble County jury has convicted Franklin Gross of College Corner, Ohio of two counts of “Rape” and two counts of “Gross Sexual Imposition”. A sentencing hearing has been set for November 8, 2017. Each count of “Rape” carries a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison; each count of “Gross Sexual Imposition” carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

On May 12, 2016, the victim in the case, Danielle Lear, went out with the defendant’s daughter and others. At the conclusion of the evening, Ms. Lear opted to spend the night at the defendant’s home instead of driving home after consuming alcohol. She passed out on a couch in the living room and was by all accounts highly intoxicated. When the victim awakened, she realized that her pants and underwear were down around her ankles. The defendant was naked and straddling her from behind. When the defendant realized the victim was awake, he got off of her and walked into his room.
The victim woke her friend, Shawna Schnitker, who was sleeping nearby. Ms. Schnitker testified that Ms. Lear was “completely undone” and “hysterical”. The two headed to Oxford, Ohio where they went to the home of Mrs. Laura Hounchell, a friend of Ms. Lear’s. Ms. Hounchell testified that the victim collapsed on her floor and continued to cry hysterically. Once she was able to calm herself and report what the defendant had done to her, the victim went to the hospital for a sexual assault exam. Laboratory analysis of the Sexual Assault Kit from this exam confirmed that the defendant’s semen and DNA were on and in the victim’s vagina.

At trial, the State of Ohio was represented by Assistant Prosecutor Valerie Sargent-Wood and Prosecuting Attorney Martin P. Votel. The defendant was represented by counsel H. Steven Hobbs, with the Honorable David N. Abruzzo presiding in the Court of Common Pleas. The trial lasted 2 ½ days, resulting in convictions on each count included in the indictment.

Prosecuting Attorney Martin P. Votel: Sex crimes facilitated by the victim’s consumption of alcohol and/or drugs are crimes of opportunity – a perpetrator realizes that the victim’s ability to appraise the nature of the conduct and/or to resist any sexual advances is impaired or completely compromised by lack of consciousness. Although victims in this position ordinarily ingest the alcohol and/or drugs voluntarily, they do not forfeit their right to the protection of the law, nor do they forfeit their autonomy over their own bodies. These statutes are “on the books” for good reason. The jury in this case made a wise decision based upon solid evidence.