Ex-police chief accused of paddling teens offers to settle lawsuit Ex-police chief accused of paddling teens offers to settle lawsuit
By Associated Press
Youngstown Vindicator, August 10, 2004

FOWLER, Ohio - A former police captain accused of paddling teen motorists for traffic violations instead of giving them tickets is offering to pay three accusers money to settle civil lawsuits, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

James Martin, who retired from the part-time police chief's job last month, also has made an offer to pay a juvenile who took part in the diversion program but was not paddled, according to motions filed in U.S. District Court in Youngstown.

The motions state that Martin is willing to pay Michael W. Harrington, 18, of Niles; Robert J. McCrystal, 18, of Howland, and Richard Thomas Woolf, 16, of Vienna, $15,000 each.

Martin is also willing to settle the case filed by Scott C. Villio, 20, of Niles, for $6,000. Villio was not paddled.

Attorney Sarah Kovoor, who represents all four, said she plans to discuss the offer with her clients.

"Right now I don't think we are interested in any of their offers until we do more discovery," she said.

The three teenagers filed federal civil suits alleging their privacy rights were violated when they were paddled as part of the diversion program. One alleged that he suffered welts in the bare-bottom paddling, which was videotaped.

Martin, free on a $2,500 bond, has pleaded innocent to a 52-count indictment. He is facing 20 counts of dereliction of duty; 11 counts of misdemeanor assault; seven counts of unauthorized photography; 12 counts of using a sham legal process, and two felony counts of theft in office, said Dave Toepfer, an assistant county prosecutor.

Authorities said the charge of sham legal process means Martin showed juveniles a document that appeared official but in reality had no legal standing and was not lawfully issued. State and federal officials began investigating Martin's juvenile diversion program in March.

The program used corporal punishment and was being operated out of the Fowler Township Police Department. Martin has said that his program was designed to help juveniles. Martin also worked full time as a police captain in Howland for 32 years. He retired from that position in May.

Fowler and Howland townships are suburbs of Warren, located about 70 miles southeast of Cleveland.

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