Ohio Eastern Star Home

The Ohio Eastern Star Home is located at 1451 Gambier Road in Mount Vernon.

MOUNT VERNON – Longtime Mount Vernon Nazarene University volleyball coach Paul Swanson has been accused of sexually victimizing an 88-year-old nursing home resident Saturday, according to court and police records.

Swanson, 67, was arrested and charged with gross sexual imposition after an alleged incident at the Ohio Eastern Star Home, 1451 Gambier Road.

The arrest warrant for Swanson, filed in Mount Vernon Municipal Court on Tuesday, alleges nursing home staff saw Swanson exposing himself and forcing the female victim to make sexual contact with him inside the home. The warrant alleges Swanson knew the victim’s ability to resist or consent was “impaired by a physical or mental condition.”

Three staff members allegedly witnessed the incident at 4:15 p.m. An officer from the Mount Vernon Police Department responded to the scene 14 minutes later. Swanson was listed as a "visitor" at the facility.

Swanson was arrested on Tuesday and booked into the Knox County Jail on the fourth-degree felony charge. He remained in jail Wednesday afternoon.

Under the Ohio Revised Code, Swanson faces a potential sentence of six to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 if found guilty. Swanson has a bond hearing scheduled Friday at 11 a.m., city law director Rob Broeren said. A date for a preliminary hearing will be determined at that time.

The Mount Vernon Police Department's detective division is handling the ongoing investigation into Saturday's alleged incident.

Michele Engelbach, CEO of Ohio Eastern Star Home, would not comment on why Swanson was in the nursing home on Saturday, as she said it's “privileged information.” She also declined to comment on whether Swanson had been in the nursing home before, citing HIPAA and other privacy regulations.

Engelbach said her staff “followed protocol very well on Saturday,” and that the home is “cooperating in the fullest extent with the authorities.”

“The staff are very well-trained on anything that might be out of the ordinary, and just generally speaking, they are very good at following the protocol. That’s really probably all I could say,” Engelbach told Knox Pages. “Obviously, we do care for elders that are dependent on us, so we take a great deal of pride in that, and our staff care very much for those that they serve here.

"We’re ever vigilant about making sure that our elders are well cared for," she said.

Approximately 115-120 patients live at the Ohio Eastern Star Home, Engelbach said, including those in independent living, assisted living, and at the nursing home.

Engelbach, who has worked as the home’s CEO for the last eight years, said this is the first time she has seen an alleged incident of this nature at the facility.

When asked if Ohio Eastern Star Home has considered protocol changes following Saturday’s alleged incident, Engelbach declined to comment.

“That would be an internal protocol that, again, I wouldn’t discuss,” she said.

Swanson, a longtime volleyball coach and physical education professor at MVNU, has been placed on administrative leave, according to a statement from the university. MVNU President Dr. Henry W. Spaulding II said that “the news of Coach Swanson’s arrest is a shock to me and to everyone at the university.”

“Like every American, he is innocent until proven guilty. However, when a charge of this nature is made against a member of the MVNU family, we must respond swiftly with a focus on ensuring the safety and health of our students and staff,” Spaulding said of the university’s decision. “We offer our prayers for all who are impacted by these developments.”

Spaulding said the university will issue no further comment at this time, “as this is a legal matter involving allegations outside of the university.”

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.