TOLEDO, Ohio — The trial of former Ottawa Hills Local Schools employee and youth baseball coach Ronald "Donnie" Stevens ended Thursday with the jury returning a guilty verdict on 31 of 32 counts.
Stevens was indicted in December 2019 and faced 32 felony charges, including multiple counts of rape, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition. Prosecutors said the crimes occurred between August 2017 and November 2019 and involved at least six teenage boys. Most were Ottawa Hills students at the time of the acts. All of the alleged victims were friends of Stevens' son who would come over for sleepovers.
Get up to speed with the case information below and see what each day in court brings with daily briefings from the WTOL 11 news team:
Thursday, Sept. 23
Stevens has been found guilty on all six counts of rape. He was acquitted on one charge of gross sexual imposition and found guilty on the remaining 31 charges. He will be sentenced Oct. 12.
Ottawa Hills Superintendent Adam Fineske released the following statement to WTOL 11:
"The trial of Donnie Stevens has been emotional for our close-knit community. The abuse, as described during the trial, was shocking and heartbreaking for all those affected. As a district, we sympathize with all that the victims and their families have been through. We hope the guilty verdict provides some closure for those involved and allows the process of healing to begin as they look to the future."
WTOL 11 also reached out to former Ottawa Hills superintendent Dr. Kevin Miller to ask if he had a statement, as he was superintendent at the time of the assaults.
Miller declined to make a personal comment, saying he will let the district speak.
The jury has reached a verdict and Stevens is in the courtroom. WTOL 11 will be live streaming as the verdict is read.
The jury is still in deliberations. A verdict could be reached as soon as today.
Wednesday, Sept. 22
The jury is now deliberating.
Closing arguments are being heard.
Tuesday, Sept. 21
The defense rested its case just before 2 p.m. Closing arguments will be heard on Wednesday.
Stevens admitted to having images on his phone of teenage boys masturbating when asked by prosecutors.
Stevens told prosecutors the victims made up their allegations. He said he raised them like his own sons and helped them build cars and took them to the gym.
The trial resumed this morning and Stevens is set to take the stand.
Monday, Sept. 20
The trial resumed this morning at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 17
Court adjourned for the day around 11:30 a.m. after just one witness was called. The trial resumes Monday at 8:30 a.m.
Thursday, Sept. 16: Multiple alleged victims provide testimony
The trial of Ronald "Donnie" Stevens, the former Ottawa Hills employee charged with multiple child sex crimes, including counts of rape, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition, continued on Thursday.
Prosecutors called multiple alleged victims of Stevens to share their emotional testimony.
All of the alleged victims were friends of Stevens' son who would come over for sleepovers.
In their horrifying testimonies each of the witnesses described a history of molestation, specifically in the summer and fall of 2019-going into their 8th-grade year when, according to the alleged victims, Stevens repeatedly molested them before bed in his basement. One described Stevens as "a monster."
The following is a portion of an exchange between one of the alleged victims and the prosecutor on Thursday:
"When he was doing that to you, how did it make you feel?" asked the prosecutor.
"Uh scared, I didn't really know what to do about it," said the victim.
"Did you ever tell him to stop?"
"I didn't know what would happen if I did."
"Were you afraid of what would happen if you did?"
"Were you afraid no one would believe you?"
In their testimonies, the alleged victims said their relationship with Stevens didn't start out as abusive. They described Stevens as a father figure; taking them to sporting events, working out with them, and being someone in whom they could confide.
Later, they said, Stevens started taking advantage of that trust and began abusing them.
"Before baseball games - he was my baseball coach - he kind of stretched me out, which I thought was weird but I did it. And then I think when I would get in bed he would kind of like - put his hands on my legs and slowly kind of work his hands around and kind of like massage me," one of the alleged victims recounted.
Also in their testimonies, multiple teens claimed that Stevens coerced nude pictures from them over Snapchat. On Thursday, the prosecution said that when the police recovered his phone and went through Stevens' deleted search history, one of his searches contained the phrase, "can Snapchat recover old files if they have a warrant?"
Meanwhile, the defense focused on establishing that these alleged incidents occurred in Stevens' house while his wife and kids were home, yet the alleged incidents were never seen by any of the family members.
A day earlier, on the second day of witness testimonies, four more people took the stand.
The first was an ex-girlfriend of one of the victims. She said Stevens was practically a father figure to the victim, always checking in on him and wondering where he was.
"Sometimes I know Donnie would want him to stop by his house after we were done hanging out or see him or go out and drive and things like that," said the ex-girlfriend.
The witness went on to recall a time the victim got home after being in the hospital for some time. She said he wasn't quite himself and was acting odd any time Stevens came up in conversation.
"He kept hinting that there was something he wanted to talk about where that was concerned, and a couple weeks later he did sit me down and let me know through a note that Donnie is the reason that he went, and he had been sexually abusing him," she said.
A second witness with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation testified to being the lab personnel who looked at DNA samples from evidence in the case.
A third witness, the director of Technology and Operations at Ottawa Hills Local Schools, discussed the blackout film Stevens put over his office windows so no one could see through.
The employee was asked, "If a teacher or administrator were to walk by and something illegal was going on they would not be able to see it?" and confirmed that, "No, no one could see."
The fourth witness, an investigator with the Lucas County Prosecutors Office, shared video of Stevens and an alleged victim's encounter during school.
"At 1:30 he's speaking to someone inside the room then traveling on east to someone in the transition hallway," the investigator said.