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Date: 07-05-2020

Case Style:


Case Number: 28425

Judge: Mary Donovan


Plaintiff's Attorney: HEATHER N. KETTER

Defendant's Attorney:

Need help finding a lawyer for representation for appealing from a conviction on three counts of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition (GSI) (victim under age 13) in Ohio?

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{¶ 1} Marvin K. Schalk appeals from his conviction on three counts of rape and
one count of gross sexual imposition (GSI) (victim under age 13). Schalk was convicted
after he entered guilty pleas in accordance with North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91
S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970) (“Alford pleas”) on the rape counts as set for in a bill of
information and on the GSI as charged in an indictment.1 We hereby affirm the judgment
of the trial court.
{¶ 2} Schalk was indicted on February 13, 2018, on three counts of rape (by force
or threat of force) in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2), all felonies of the first degree, and
one count of gross sexual imposition (GSI) in violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(4), a felony of
the third degree; each of the counts in the indictment specified that the victim was under
13 years of age at the time of the offense. The trial court entered a plea of not guilty on
Schalk’s behalf. On March 13, 2018, Schalk’s attorney requested competency and
sanity evaluations, and the court ordered the evaluations. On May 1, 2018, Schalk’s
attorney requested a second evaluation of Schalk’s mental condition at the time of the
offense; on May 10, 2018, the trial court granted this motion. On July 9, 2018, the court
found Schalk competent to stand trial.
{¶ 3} On June 20, 2018, Schalk’s attorney filed a motion to suppress Schalk’s
statements to law enforcement officers. Following a hearing, the court overruled the

1 The essence of an Alford plea is that a defendant enters a guilty plea notwithstanding
his or her “protestations of factual innocence,” with a purpose to avoid some more
onerous penalty that he or she risks by going to trial on the charges against him or her.
State v. Gibson, 2d Dist. Clark No. 2013-CA-112, 2014-Ohio-5573, ¶ 8, quoting State v.
Gossard, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 19494, 2003-Ohio-3770. There are additional
procedural requirements prior to the trial court’s acceptance of an Alford plea. State v.
Mapes, 2d Dist. Champaign No. 09CA19, 2010-Ohio-4042, ¶ 63.
motion on October 17, 2018.
{¶ 4} Trial was scheduled for April 8, 2019. On that date, although prospective
jurors had been called, the court indicated on the record that Schalk intended to enter
Alford pleas and that he had “just” been served with a bill of information. With respect to
the rapes, the bill of information omitted the fact that the victim had been less than 13
years of age, and the court noted that Schalk’s Alford pleas would be entered on the three
rape charges as set forth in the bill of information. The court also indicated that Schalk
would enter an Alford plea to the GSI as charged in the indictment (with the victim being
under the age of 13 at the time of the offense). There was no agreement as to
sentencing except that the GSI sentence would run concurrently with the rape sentences.
{¶ 5} In the course of his plea colloquy, Schalk informed the Court that he was 42
years old, had obtained his GED, and had attended some college. Schalk indicated that
he was not under the influence of any drugs or medications and there was no mental or
physical condition affecting his ability to understand the proceedings. The court noted
that Schalk was on post-release control and that the plea agreement provided the court
would not impose any sanction on Schalk for a post-release control violation, but it also
noted that “the Adult Parole Authority has some authority over” Schalk and he could
“conceivably receive a sanction from the Adult Parole Authority” because he was on postrelease control.
{¶ 6} The court noted that, in taking an Alford plea, it needed “to investigate the
strength of the State’s case by having a case detective * * * take the witness stand and,
under oath, summarize the evidence that was accumulated by the State,” to hear from
defense counsel about what he had done “to investigate the strength of the State’s case”
and whether counsel recommended the plea to Schalk, and to hear from Schalk himself
.about “why he want[ed] to enter into this plea agreement and enter into the Alford plea
of guilt.” The court also ascertained that Schalk was willing to waive his right to a grand
jury on the charges in the bill of information and to waive the 24-hour waiting period, and
Schalk signed the waiver forms.
{¶ 7} The State called Detective Travis Abney of the Riverside Police Department,
who testified that in December 2017, he was assigned to investigate allegations made
against Schalk by his daughter, who was born in June 2005. Abney testified that
Schalk’s daughter, E., was 12 years old during the time period set forth in the indictment,
namely July through December 2017. Abney was assigned to investigate the case after
Officer Waller initially met with members of E.’s family and took their statements.
{¶ 8} Abney testified that, as a matter of police protocol, taking into account the
daughter’s age and “the nature of the accusations,” he arranged for her to be interviewed
at CARE House, where forensic interviewers are specially trained to interview children.
Abney testified that he observed the interview. E. disclosed that Schalk had reentered
her life in the summer of 2017; she initially had daytime visits with him, which progressed
to overnight visits every other weekend; her mother and step-father confirmed the
visitation schedule. E. disclosed that Schalk sexually abused her during these visits.
{¶ 9} According to Abney, E.’s brother accompanied E. on the visits; E. would
sleep with her father, and her brother would sleep in the living room on the couch. Three
other relatives also lived with Schalk in the three-bedroom home. E. disclosed during the
CARE House interview that at night or when she seemed to be asleep, she would wake
up to find her father doing inappropriate things to her. She mentioned that he was
touching “her private area,” including touching her vagina with his fingers, and “that he
used his mouth on her private area.” She said that, during the last encounter, “he tried
to insert his penis into her vagina.” Schalk also rubbed her thighs and breasts. Abney
testified that E. recounted that Schalk had also touched his own penis while in bed with
her. E.’s overnight visits with Schalk ended in December 2017.
{¶ 10} Abney also testified that he interviewed Schalk, who voluntarily appeared
at the Riverside Police Department on January 3, 2018. Abney advised Schalk of his
rights, and Schalk agreed to speak to him. Abney described Schalk’s demeanor as
“normal” and “polite.” Abney testified that Schalk initially denied the allegations and
“insinuate[d] that there were possibly things that had been misunderstood by [E.]” and
that there were “missing pieces” to the events as recounted by Abney. Abney testified
that E. stated that the abuse occurred “most of the times that she stayed” at Schalk’s
home, and that “the more recent times were longer in duration.” Abney testified that E.
viewed the final incident as the most traumatic when Schalk attempted to insert his penis
into her vagina, which was painful.
{¶ 11} The prosecutor advised the court that the three counts of rape in the bill of
information correlated to digital penetration of E.’s vagina, penetration with Schalk’s
penis, and cunnilingus. The trial court found that Detective Abney’s testimony “touched
on all of the essential elements of the offenses at issue.”
{¶ 12} The Court then invited defense counsel to explain on the record what he
did on behalf of Schalk to investigate the strength of the State’s case and his
recommendation to Schalk about the Alford plea. Defense counsel stated:
* * * I have been on the case since roughly probably early March,
March-ish, of 2018. During that time, * * * the first thing we did was we
explored [the] potential of a not guilty by reason of insanity [plea]. Two
reports were prepared with that request - - one from the Forensic Psychiatry
Center requested by the Court. * * * [T]hat came out and found that the
evaluator’s recommendation and opinion was that * * * Marvin was not
under any kind of mental defect or illness that made him unable to
understand the wrongfulness of his actions at the time.
I requested and the Court granted me a second opinion by Dr. Bob
Stinson in Columbus. Dr. Stinson, in approximately June time frame, came
back and indicated that he concurred with the first opinion though he did
offer in that opinion that there was some level of mental disease or illness
but that it didn’t rise to the level of legal insanity.
The Court * * * had authorized an investigator who has spoken with
Marvin on a few occasions who has spoken with some family members over
the months. I think Marvin understands that his family has, at times, been
less than cooperative with us which has made it hard to get some
information from them.
Marvin and I have talked, at length, about the allegations that [E.]
has made. I have offered my opinion to him on numerous occasions how
a jury would take that information and things we could use to attack that
information that we could use to raise reasonable doubt if Marvin decided
to go to trial.
Given the potential of a life sentence, potentially 35 years to life in
prison, it was my recommendation that Marvin take the deal. We initially
tried to work out a cap - - first a flat time and then a cap. Those offers were
rejected which left us here this morning prepared to go to trial and I am
prepared to go to trial.
I have met with Marvin several, many times in the last, over the
course of the 13 months that I’ve represented him but probably at least five
or six times in the last month or two. We’ve gone over the case. We’ve
talked about the pluses and minutes [sic] of his case, things we could argue.
But, ultimately, * * * I have the recommendation to him as recently as this
morning when we spoke in the jury room * * * that it would be my
recommendation * * * that he offer, again, because technically the deal was
taken off the table, that he authorize me to make the deal that he plead to
the three counts of rape where the under 13 is taken out. The State came
back with accepting that offer with the understanding that he would plead
also to the GSI but that wouldn’t incur any additional time. That he would
be facing * * * a maximum of 33 years in prison and * * * I did recommend,
ultimately, that Marvin take that deal.
{¶ 13} The court then asked Schalk to explain why he was entering his Alford
plea. Schalk responded: “A couple of reasons. One, I don’t want to put my daughter
through the trial. I don’t want to put my family through this. The offer of the life tail being
taken off the table is also a reason and - - and also - - I’m sorry. Maybe that’s - - that’s
all I can think of right now * * *.”
{¶ 14} The court explained to Schalk that, if he pled guilty to three felonies of the
first degree, each offense would carry a period of mandatory imprisonment of three to
eleven years, by statute and due to his criminal history. The court also informed him that
the sentences could be run consecutively for a maximum possible sentence of 33 years
or concurrently for a minimum sentence of three years. The Court explained that it could
impose a maximum fine of $20,000 on each count as well. With respect to the GSI, a
third-degree felony with a victim under the age of 13, the court informed Schalk that the
offense carried a potential term of 12 to 60 months in prison and a maximum fine of
$10,000. Schalk indicated his understanding of these matters.
{¶ 15} The court then advised that all four of the offenses were sexually-oriented
offenses and, as a result, he would be designated a Tier III sex offender. The court
advised Schalk of his registration, reporting, and verification requirements as a Tier III
offender, which would “endure for [his] lifetime with in-person verification every 90 days.”
Schalk acknowledged his understanding.
{¶ 16} The court advised Schalk that none of the offenses were eligible for
community supervision and about post-release control.
{¶ 17} Schalk advised the court that he was entering his Alford pleas of his own
free will, and that no one threatened, coerced, forced, or promised him anything to enter
his pleas. The court advised Schalk of the constitutional rights that he would give up by
entering his Alford pleas, and Schalk acknowledged his understanding. Schalk
acknowledged that by entering his pleas, he gave up his right to appeal pretrial rulings by
the court.
{¶ 18} The prosecutor read the three counts of rape in the bill of information;
Schalk entered his guilty pleas, signing the plea forms and entering his pleas of “[g]uilty
by Alford.” He also entered his plea to GSI as charged in the indictment as “[g]uilty by
{¶ 19} The court made the following findings:
The Court will make the finding that the defendant has appeared here
in open court and after being advised of the contents of the entry of waiver
and plea on indictment and Bill of Information that the defendant has
voluntarily signed his name.
The Court further finds that the defendant has understood the giving
up his constitutional rights, knowing what they are; he knows the charges
and the maximum penalties that apply to them; he knows that he is not
eligible for community control and that he may be required to pay a fine as
well as restitution.
The Court finds that Mr. Schalk has understood the effect of the plea.
The plea has been made voluntarily and that there is a factual basis.
The Court will accept Mr. Schalk’s Alford plea and determine that the
evidence in this matter clearly and unequivocally establishes that Mr.
Schalk’s decision to plead guilty despite his protestations of innocence is
based on his rational calculation that pleading guilty avoids the risk of a
greater penalty by going to trial.
The Court will accept the Alford pleas, direct that the plea forms be
filed of record.
{¶ 20} After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Schalk to a mandatory
ten years on two of the rape offenses (Counts 1 and 2), a mandatory five years on the
third rape offense (Count 3), and a mandatory five years for the GSI (Count 4). The court
ordered the sentences for rape to be served consecutively and the sentence for GSI to
be served concurrently to the rapes, for an aggregate term of 25 years. Schalk was also
designated a Tier II sexually-oriented offender for GSI and a Tier III sexually-oriented
offender for rape.
{¶ 21} Schalk asserts the following assignment of error on appeal:
{¶ 22} Schalk asserts that the State failed to proffer the evidence it needed to
present to prove Schalk’s guilt of the charged offenses. He claims that, although
Detective Abney testified about some of the evidence in the case, there was no evidence:
about when the three rapes occurred, what specific sexual conduct supported each of the
three rapes, or of his daughter’s age at the time of the alleged GSI (to support that she
was under 13). Further, Schalk contends that defense counsel listed some of the work
he had done on the case, but did not indicate if or how he had “investigate[d] the strength
of the State’s case.” As such, he claims that the State did not provide a sufficient factual
basis for its case against Schalk from which the court could have concluded that he had
“rationally calculated it was in his interest to plead guilty.” He also asserts that the trial
court did not “comply with the constitutional standards for accepting his Alford plea.”
{¶ 23} The State responds that the trial court fully complied with the requirements
pursuant to Crim.R. 11 in accepting Schalk’s plea as well as the additional requirements
necessary for an Alford plea.
{¶ 24} We agree with the State. This Court has previously stated the following
with respect to pleas entered under the authority of Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27
L.Ed.2d 162:
An Alford plea “permits a plea of guilty when the defendant
nevertheless denies a necessary foundation of criminal liability, either with
respect to the truth of the act or omission charged or the degree of
culpability which the offense requires.” State v. Gossard, 2d Dist.
Montgomery No. 19494, 2003-Ohio-3770, at ¶ 7. “An individual accused
of a crime may voluntarily, knowingly, and understandingly consent to the
imposition of a prison sentence even if he is unwilling or unable to admit his
participation in the acts constituting the crime.” Id., quoting Alford, 400
U.S. at 37, 91 S.Ct. 160.
When taking an Alford plea, a trial court must not only comply with
the dictates of Crim.R. 11, but must “determine that the defendant has made
a rational calculation to plead guilty notwithstanding his belief that he is
innocent.” Gossard, [at] ¶ 11. “At a minimum, this requires an ‘inquiry of
the defendant concerning his reasons for deciding to plead guilty
notwithstanding his protestations of innocence; it may require, in addition,
inquiry concerning the state's evidence in order to determine that the
likelihood of the defendant's being convicted of offenses of equal or greater
magnitude than the offenses to which he is pleading guilty is great enough
to warrant an intelligent decision to plead guilty.’ ” Id. “The essence of an
Alford plea is that a Defendant's decision to enter the plea against his
protestations of factual innocence is clearly and unequivocally supported by
evidence that he exercised that calculus for the purpose of avoiding some
more onerous penalty that he risks by, instead, going to trial on the charges
against him.” Id. at ¶ 12.
State v. Adkins, 2015-Ohio-4605, 46 N.E.3d 1143, ¶12-13 (2d Dist.).
{¶ 25} In Gossard, this Court determined that the record failed to establish that
the defendant’s Alford plea was entered knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. The
following factors were significant to this Court:
* * * [T]he record does not portray what, if anything, Gossard's
counsel did to investigate the strength of the State's case. The record does
not reflect that Gossard's attorney recommended the guilty plea. The court
heard no sworn testimony concerning the evidence against Gossard, but
instead relied on a summary of evidence the prosecutor presented, which
represented to the court in general terms that Gossard had admitted his
criminal conduct to investigating officers. Gossard never stated or
explained what his motivation was for entering the Alford plea, instead
giving only monosyllabic responses to the trial court's leading questions on
the matter. * * *
Id. at ¶ 10. As noted in Gossard, an “Alford plea represents a qualification to the
assurances created by a proper Crim.R. 11(C) inquiry.” Id. at ¶ 7.
{¶ 26} In Schalk’s case, at the start of the hearing, the trial court correctly indicated
that it was required to investigate the strength of the State’s case, which it did by means
of hearing Abney’s testimony under oath. The trial court also inquired of defense counsel
regarding his investigation into the strength of the State’s case against Schalk,
determined if defense counsel recommended the Alford pleas to Schalk, and asked
Schalk about the basis of his decision to enter the Alford pleas.
{¶ 27} In addition to Abney’s testimony, the prosecutor directed the court’s
attention to the bill of particulars and stated that the three rape allegations were based
upon Schalk’s digital and penile penetration E.’s vagina, as well as cunnilingus. At the
conclusion of Abney’s testimony, the court noted that Abney “touched on all of the
essential elements of the offenses at issue.”2
{¶ 28} The court then inquired of defense counsel. Counsel explained in detail
his investigation into the strength of the State’s case and his recommendation to Schalk.
The court then asked Schalk to state his reasons for entering his Alford pleas, and Schalk
responded, “One, I don’t want to put my daughter through the trial. I don’t want to put
my family through this. The offer of the life tail being taken off the table is also a reason
* * *.”
{¶ 29} Based upon the foregoing, we conclude that the record belies Schalk’s
assertion that no evidence was presented as to when the rapes occurred; they occurred
in the course of E.’s overnight visits with Schalk during the time period set forth in the

2 R.C. 2907.02(A)(2) provides: “No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another
when the offender purposely compels the other person to submit by force or threat of
force.” R.C. 2907.05(A) provides: “No person shall have sexual contact with another,
not the spouse of the offender; cause another, not the spouse of the offender, to have
sexual contact with the offender; or cause two or more other persons to have sexual
contact when any of the following applies: * * * (4) The other person, or one of the other
persons, is less than thirteen years of age, whether or not the offender knows the age of
that person.”
indictment and bill of information, namely, July 1, 2017, through December 17, 2017,
when E. was 12 years old. The record further belies Schalk’s argument that there was
no evidence regarding the specific sexual conduct that supported the charges. Abney’s
testimony and the prosecutor’s statement made clear, and the court specifically
determined, that the offenses were based upon Schalk’s “digital penetration of [E.’s]
vagina, penetration with his penis and then * * * cunnilingus.” Regarding proof of E.’s
age to support the GSI offense, the record is clear that E. was born in June 2005 and was
12 years old during the relevant time period of July 1, 2017, through December 17, 2017.
{¶ 30} We further reject Schalk’s argument that there was an insufficient factual
basis from which the court could have concluded that Schalk rationally calculated that it
was in his best interest to enter his Alford pleas. Defense counsel represented to the
court that he met with Schalk multiple times, discussed trial strategy, and recommended
that he enter his Alford pleas to the rape counts in the bill of information to avoid the
possibility of a life sentence. Schalk himself indicated that the “offer of the life tail being
taken off the table” was a reason for his plea, as well as sparing E. and his family from a
{¶ 31} We further conclude that the record belies Schalk’s argument that there was
no testimony regarding defense counsel’s investigation of the case. Defense counsel
testified that he met with Schalk multiple times, explored the possibility of a plea of not
guilty by reason of insanity, and obtained two reports on Schalk’s competency for trial.
The docket reflects that defense counsel asked for and was granted funds to obtain the
transcript of E.’s forensic interview. Defense counsel also filed a motion for a private
investigator, which the court granted.
{¶ 32} Finally, based upon the foregoing, we conclude that Schalk’s assertion that
the record does not support a conclusion that he entered his pleas knowing the strength
of the State’s case lacks merit. E. disclosed multiple incidents of sexual abuse over a
period of months, and defense counsel obtained the transcript of her forensic interview.
Abney observed the interview and related E.’s disclosures to the court.
{¶ 33} We conclude that the trial court properly determined that Schalk made a
rational calculation to enter his Alford pleas to avoid the potential of a life sentence. In
other words, Schalk’s decision was clearly and unequivocally supported by evidence that
he exercised such a calculation to avoid the more onerous penalty he risked if he
proceeded to trial.

Outcome: Schalk’s assignment of error is overruled, and the judgment of the trial
court is affirmed.

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