A husband, wife and a male friend have been sentenced to three years in prison after luring a Sidney man to a house, beating and robbing him and then telling police the man had raped the wife.
Mark A. Dowty, 52, spent four days in jail in March 2011 before a grand jury declined to indict him on four felony charges.
Dayton police admitted they initially arrested the wrong man. Once they realized that, detectives worked more than a year before a Montgomery County grand jury indicted the trio in July.
Common Pleas Judge Michael Tucker sentenced Jessica N. Schaller, 28, Brandon Schaller, 31, and Nathan Michael Chandler, 31 three months later to three years in prison and restitution.
“This was a travesty of justice,” said Sgt. Larry Tolpin, supervisor of the Dayton Police Department’s Special Victims Unit.
Part of the problem, Tolpin said, was Dowty initially did not want to speak with police.
Numerous attempts to reach Dowty last week were unsuccessful.
Tolpin said a small percentage of the rapes and other felony sex crimes reported to SVU are unfounded. Last year, 30 of the 256 sex crimes investigated, or 12 percent, were unfounded, according to department records.
What made Dowty’s case different was the testimony of the trio to patrol officers. That was compounded by Dowty’s reticent to talk with detectives.
“I think he felt as if he were being railroaded, and we were part of the problem,” Tolpin said. The sergeant said Dowty’s wife eventually convinced him to talk. His story, later backed up by evidence uncovered by detectives, told of a man lured by the promise of sex into a robbery and beating.
Police found Dowty naked and bleeding from the head and face when they responded to a call at a Pritz Avenue home early March 13, 2011. He was being restrained by Brandon Schaller and Chandler. Chandler told officers he was babysitting the couple’s children, while the couple was out at a club. When the couple returned, Chandler and Brandon Schaller left to get cigarettes. When they returned they heard Jessica Schaller upstairs screaming for help and found her and Dowty struggling on the bed. They said they pulled Dowty off the woman, restrained him, and called police.
When Dowty finally agreed to talk to police, he told a different story. He told SVU Detective William Swisher he met Jessica Schaller at club, took her phone number and later called and made arrangements to meet her. Dowty said she gave him directions to the house. Once at the house and alone with Jessica, Brandon Schaller and Chandler burst into the room and demanded money.
“Fortunately his wife supported him.” said Swisher. “They really set this guy up good.”
Police said the rape story began to unravel after Jessica Schaller declined testing at the hospital and told Swisher the next day she could not remember much about the attack despite giving responding officers a detailed account five hours earlier.
Dowty, who was treated at a local hospital before being arrested, told detectives he had come to Dayton to sell a pickup truck and had around $2,500 in cash from the sale. Prior to entering the Pritz address, he hid the cash beneath the dashboard of his car. At some point, someone rummaged through the car but missed the hidden cash.
Interviews with club staff and a security video confirmed Dowty’s version of events.
At their Sept. 28 sentencing, the Schallers and Chandler were also ordered to pay Dowty $874 each in restitution.
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