With trial scheduled to begin only nine days later, charges of child sex abuse against Robert Koenig, 63, were dismissed at the prosecution’s request, motivated by the discovery of new evidence following Mr. Koenig’s indictment some six months earlier.
Mr. Koenig faced two counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of rape under that indictment. Those charges stemmed from Koenig’s role as a foster parent, a role he and his wife had shared for five years by the time Mr. Koenig was first charged.
When it learned of the abuse allegations, the official licensing agency, Lucas County Children Services, began the process of removing the Koenigs from the foster care program. The Koenigs, however, withdrew voluntarily before that removal process was completed.
Mr. Koenig had been a teacher for the Toledo Public Schools from 1975 to 2010, spending most of his career in middle schools. He worked as a substitute teacher in that school system for three years until his retirement in 2013.
According to Frank Spryszak, the assistant county prosecutor who sought the dismissal, his action was driven by the discovery of new evidence “that put us in a position that we no longer felt that we had sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.”
Lorin Zaner, the attorney defending Mr. Koenig, describes himself as a leading child sexual conduct with a minor lawyer with a particular interest in false abuse allegations. He said that the dismissal came as a great relief to his client. “We had the documentation to show that there’s no way our guy could’ve done what they said,” he said.
At the same time, he called attention to the negative consequences of the allegations for Mr. and Mrs. Koenig, a state of affairs that may be familiar to him as a sex crimes lawyer. “They truly had a desire to help children. To be in a position of being falsely accused because you put yourself out there to help children is a tragedy because these are good people. Their names are drug through the mud. Why do you want to put yourself in that position? It’s terrible.”
Mr. Koenig had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and he had been released on $300,000 bond after appearing before Court of Common Pleas Judge Ruth Ann Franks, the same judge who later heard the prosecution’s request to dismiss all charges.
Mr. Spryszak pointed to the prosecution’s duty to seek justice in explaining his dismissal request. “If we do not feel we have enough evidence to go forward, we can’t force a case to trial if we can’t prove it,” he said.
According to Dean Sparks, Executive Director of Lucas County Children Services, the Koenigs provided foster care for about 10 children while in the program, mostly on a short-term basis. An agency spokesperson, Julie Malkin, said that the agency had performed a full investigation, performing criminal background checks and obtaining personal references, before approving the Koenigs as foster parents. Local police, the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI are all included in the investigation. In addition, the couple had received 36 hours of formal training in accordance with agency requirements. Caseworkers visited the Koenig home monthly for inspections, and there had been no complaints prior to the allegations that resulted in criminal charges.
When Mr. Koenig was first indicted, Mr. Sparks spoke to the difficulty of achieving certainty when evaluating foster parents. “We’re not going to do psychological tests on everybody,” he said. “People think that’s some magical thing. Psych people can’t predict the future. They can’t read your minds, so that really wouldn’t provide any benefits for us.”
Mr. Zaner thanked Mr. Spryszak for “doing the right thing,” noting that there were inconsistencies in the statements of the alleged victim, a boy under the age of 10, among other problems with the prosecution’s case.
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