Appeal denied for ex-youth soccer coach convicted on sex crimes

An appeal to overturn the conviction of the former Germantown youth soccer coach convicted of sex crimes against a child was denied.

The attorney for Justin Smith, 42, filed the appeal with the Ohio Second Appellate District Court arguing prosecutors failed to establish jurisdiction or venue for any of the crimes, that prosecutors engaged in prosecutorial misconduct and that he should be allowed to serve his sentences all at once instead of one after another, among other alleged legal discrepancies.

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Smith was convicted in 2018 on eight counts involving a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl that prosecutors said he knew for years and groomed. During his trial, Smith fled Montgomery County prompting a nationwide search for the man.

He was eventually arrested in Florida and sentenced to serve 12 years in prison.

Smith argued in his appeal his conviction was unfair.

“According to Smith, although (the teen’s) testimony placed certain misdemeanor acts of sexual contact inside Smith’s Montgomery County home, she did not identify the location at which any act … supporting the felony offenses were alleged to have taken place. He also cites his own trial testimony for the proposition that certain sexual behavior that took place between him and (the teen) took place outside of Montgomery County,” the appeals court said in its opinion.

However, the appeals court disagreed with Smith. Instead, the appeals court found that all sexual activity between Smith and his victim was “a single course of criminal conduct” and were committed as part of the same chain of events in furtherance of the same objective (a sexual relationship).

The court also disagreed that prosecutors engaged in prosecutorial misconduct. Smith argued that prosecutors made improper remakes during opening and closing arguments, specifically that a prosecutor said the events were a “parent’s worst nightmare” and called Smith a “master manipulator and perpetrator”.

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“Smith did not object at trial to any of the conduct that forms the basis for this assignment of error,” the appeals court said. “As we find the specific remarks identified by Smith to have been neither unduly inflammatory nor prejudicial, Smith has failed to establish the existence of error, plain or otherwise.”

A message seeking comment for defense attorney April Campbell wasn’t returned.

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