Walbridge man found not guilty of rape charges


A Walbridge man accused of rape has been found not guilty.

The two-day court trial of Steven Finch II, 48, concluded March 31.

Finch had been indicted in March 2021 on three counts of rape, all first-degree felonies and each with a sexually violent predator specification.

Finch had waived his right to a jury trial; the case was argued in the courtroom of Wood County Common Pleas Judge Matt Reger.

Wood County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Gross’ motion to dismiss the specifications to all three counts was granted.

According to court documents, the state presented the testimony of the alleged victim, a co-worker and an investigator in the prosecutor’s office.

The alleged victim was accompanied by a comfort dog while on the witness stand.

An attempt to use Katherine Mull, with the Cocoon, as a witness was opposed by the defense, and Reger concurred.

Finch’s defense team did not present any witnesses.

Reger, after hearing closing arguments, reviewed the testimony presented at trial, the exhibits, and the arguments of counsel before finding Finch no guilty on all charges.

He said he could not comment on the reasoning for that ruling.

Finch was accused twice from Feb. 15-July 1, 2015, of engaging in sexual conduct by purposely compelling the same woman to submit by force or threat of force. Her ability to consent was substantially impaired because of mental or physical condition or because of advanced age. The third charge or rape occurred between Oct. 15-Nov. 15, 2018.

He also had been indicted in February 2021, while living in Millbury, on 19 counts of rape, five counts of kidnapping and six counts of felonious assault.

Finch was arrested March 18, 2021. Bond was set at $100,000.

Gross, in April 2021, asked to merge the two cases for trial purposes as the offenses in each case were the same or similar in character and were part of a course of criminal conduct. It also would allow the two alleged victims to testify at one trial, she stated in court documents.

Defense attorney Kati Tharp opposed that motion, stating the merging of the two cases would be prejudicial to her client and violate his right to a fair trial.

Reger in June denied the motion for joinder and in October granted the state’s motion to dismiss the 30-count indictment.

Tharp asked in May for the court to modify bond to $50,000 with the condition, if paid, Finch’s movements would be restricted to a family member’s home in Lucas County, and he would be placed on electronic monitoring. Reger granted that motion later that month and Finch posted bond that same day and was discharged from jail May 25. Bond was later modified again to allow Finch to return to his home in Walbridge and be allowed internet access.

If Finch had been found guilty, the potential penalty was life in prison.

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