RAVENNA — Roger Tooley, a 43-year-old Rootstown Township man who pleaded guilty after being accused of entering a Kent State University student’s apartment and touching her inappropriately in November, has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
He must also register as a Tier I sex offender, the least serious designation, annually for 15 years, and will serve five years of post-release control when he gets out of prison.
“I really messed up here,” Tooley told visiting judge Patricia Cosgrove in Portage County Common Pleas Court. “I want to apologize to the victim... I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Tooley pleaded guilty to burglary, a second-degree felony, and gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony.
Tooley told police he was high on drugs and drunk when he walked into a University Townhomes apartment at around 5:30 a.m. Nov. 3, Tooley’s lawyer, Errol Can, said in court on Tuesday. Tooley touched at least one woman while she was asleep.
Tooley then fled the apartment but was later detained by a police officer. Kent police said video footage showed Tooley tried to enter other homes as well.
The victim did not appear in court. A court staffer read the victim’s statement out loud.
The victim said she “woke up to a stranger fondling her breasts” and that she now has to check up to five times to make sure her doors are locked before she can fall asleep.
While she said her story was not as powerful as some others, she still felt her voice matters.
“Sexual assault is just that: sexual assault,” the victim wrote, asking for the judge to give Tooley as much time as possible.
In sentencing, Cosgrove, a former Summit County Common Pleas judge, noted Tooley’s criminal record dates back to a bank fraud charge in 2000. In a 2003 case, he was found guilty of illegal use of minors in nudity-oriented material and pandering after Kent State police found images of child pornography among several thousand pornographic images on computers at his home. At the time, he was suspected of hacking into Kent State's computer system.
That case went to the Ohio Supreme Court after the question of whether electronic images were actual children was raised by Tooley’s attorneys.
Tooley eventually served time in prison on the bank fraud conviction after violating his federal supervision due to the 2003 charges. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison on the 2003 charges and a related charge of unauthorized use of property. He was granted judicial release from prison in February 2008.
Cosgrove noted that Tooley’s behavior showed “an escalating pattern of conduct,” noting he had shifted from viewing pornography to physically assaulting someone.
“This may be the most violent thing that happens to this woman,” Cosgrove said.
Cosgrove asked Tooley how he got into the apartment. Tooley said he didn’t really remember what had happened, but the door must have been unlocked.
Cosgrove said most of the time, people who are high and drunk and break into homes end up passed out on the couch or rummaging through a fridge.
“There is nothing more sacred than your house,” Cosgrove said. “That’s where you go to feel safe. You have taken that away from this woman.”
Contact reporter Eileen McClory at 330-298-1128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Eileen_McClory.