Prominent Dayton child psychologist sentenced to jail, fined $30,000

A Greene County judge on Thursday sentenced prominent former child psychologist Gregory Ramey to six months in a locked down sex offender treatment program, up to six months in Greene County jail, up to five years of supervised release, $30,000 in fines and court costs.

Ramey pleaded guilty Sept. 21 to six counts of endangering children and one count of tampering with evidence. In exchange for his plea, other charges involving child pornography were dropped.

Prior to sentencing, Ramey told Greene County Common Pleas Judge Adolfo Tornichio that he took responsibility for his actions.

“It was wrong. I believe it was harmful and hurtful to others,” Ramey said, calling it a “private behavior” unrelated to his professional work.

Ramey said he is making progress in court-recommended weekly therapy.

“All I can tell you is in the strongest terms, if given the opportunity to continue my outpatient therapy, you will never see me in this court again,” he said. “There are not many things I know for sure, but I know that for sure.”

ExploreDayton child psychologist pleads guilty to endangering, tampering with evidence

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, whose office prosecuted the case, said in an interview with the Dayton Daily News earlier this week that prosecution of the case was complicated by Ramey destroying the computer that housed many of the images flagged online as inappropriate.

“There’s a reason you take a ball-peen hammer to a hard drive,” Yost said. “You don’t want cops to see what’s on the hard drive. Frequently, we can forensically recover the images. In this particular case, we were not able to.”

Yost said his prosecutors originally thought the remaining images they had access to were pornographic images involving children, but as the case unfolded it became clear they don’t meet the strict definition in state law.

“An awful lot of your readers would look at them and go, ‘Yeah that’s child pornography,’ but we live by the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “The key thing here from my point of view is this guy is not going to be around kids anymore.”

Ramey’s medical licenses expired in July, according to the Ohio Board of Psychology website.

Ramey’s defense attorney Jon Paul Rion, in arguing for his client to get probation, told the court Thursday that the case “may very well have been over-indicted from its inception.”

Tornichio said the children in the images they did review in the case are still victims, and Ramey contributed to their victimization.

“Somebody’s little girl or somebody’s little boy was involved in your crime,” Tornichio said. “The court in the presence of both the state and defense have seen those photographs. Yeah, I can say that no child’s genitalia was shown. I can say that there’s no sex acts between children, between children and adults. But those children were exploited, and you contributed to their exploitation.”

Ramey knew what he was doing was wrong, the judge said, because as soon as he learned in July 2019 that AOL had frozen his email account — after the service provider was contacted by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force — Ramey ran out and bought a new computer.

“You knew your house of cards was about to fall,” Tornichio said.

For years Ramey was a leading voice on issues of child endangerment and exploitation. He was a longtime employee of Dayton Children’s Hospital, where he last served as executive director for pediatric mental health resources. His employment was terminated in August 2019, the hospital said, and none of the allegations involved any activity at Dayton Children’s.

Teri LaJeunesse, director of the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office victim/witness division, read a victim impact statement on behalf of the unidentified children in the images.

“This criminal behavior subjects exploited children to a lifetime of victimization from which they can never escape,” she said.

“Greg Ramey has taken the position that the particular images he possessed aren’t all that bad, that they were merely erotica,” LaJeunesse said. “Such attempts to defuse the seriousness of the exploitation to which these children were subjected through the creation and distribution of the images are simply incredulous, especially coming from a mental health professional whose primary occupation for decades has revolved around treatment for the psycho/social trauma of children.”

“His masquerading as a champion of children when he was in fact a consummate exploiter is perhaps one of the most egregious aspects of this case,” LaJeunesse said.

Teresa Wiles, director of a Fairborn nonprofit that helps child abuse victims called Michael’s House, said she worked with Ramey on abuse cases for 36 years and called for him to face the maximum sentence allowed.

“Silence, minimization, denial and inaction allows child exploitation to thrive. I am respectfully asking the court to do the opposite,” she said. “Although we do not know their names, we need to collectively see and acknowledge the child victims in this case.”

Ramey faced up to 21 years in prison on the charges he pleaded to, and could still be subject to that if he fails to comply with the terms of his probation. He could also have his jail or probation term shortened if he abides by the provisions, which include not getting on the internet without prior approval from the courts.

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