Eric W. Deaton — the Ohio Constitution Party candidate for U.S. Senate who was indicted on Tuesday for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor — met the victim at a church where he was an elder, a police official told TPMMuckraker.
The pastor of the church first brought concerns about the relationship between the girl, now 18, and 42-year-old Deaton to authorities and an investigation started last October, according to Bob Bowman, the sheriff of Perry Township.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Deaton denied the charges, said they were politically motivated, and vowed to continue to run for office.
“I am fortunate that I live in a country where I am entitled to a fair trial by jury,” Deaton said, reports WHIO radio. “I have been running for office for 15 months and I intend to stay in the race. I feel I owe it to my state, my country and all of my constituents.”
Jon Paul Rion, a lawyer representing Deaton, said hotel surveillance video and receipts could help prove that his client was innocent. Deaton had passed a four-hour long polygraph test issued through his Rion’s office, the lawyer said.
The relationship went on for a number of years, and was consensual, according to Bowman. Police say he met the alleged victim when he was serving as an elder at his church, and invited the teenager to his home where he tutored her and paid her to do odd jobs, the local NBC channel reported.
The victim is cooperating with the investigation, said Bowman. The sexual activity allegedly took place both in Deaton’s house and at a motel in a nearby town, he added. The records took awhile to obtain because the motel had closed since Deaton allegedly used it. But they corroborated the dates of the alleged activity, and there were more dates than authorities had confirmed with the girl, according to Bowman. “You may surmise that there was more than one girl” but they had not found another victim, Bowman said.