MOUNT VERNON – A grand jury next week will hear sex crime allegations against a legendary Mount Vernon Nazarene University volleyball coach, according to Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville.
Paul Swanson, 67, waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, according to documents filed today in Mount Vernon Municipal Court. His hearing on gross sexual imposition charges had been scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m.
Swanson is accused of sexually victimizing an 88-year-old nursing home resident. His attorney, Jonathon Spaulding, declined comment Thursday.
“We’re not at a spot where we’ve got any kind of statement to offer yet,” Spaulding said.
The decision to waive the preliminary hearing moves the case from Mount Vernon Municipal Court into Knox County Common Pleas Court.
“The grand jury will determine whether or not there is probable cause that a crime was committed and that person committed the crime,” McConville said, “which is a different standard than 'beyond a reasonable doubt,' that the state has to prove in trial.”
If a grand jury returns an indictment, the case will be moved forward and Swanson would be arraigned again, this time in Common Pleas Court.
“After that, there’s an exchange of discovery and a trial date is set,” McConville said.
The Mount Vernon Police Department’s detective division is still investigating the case, Det. Matt Haver said Thursday, although McConville could not say whether he is expecting additional charges.
Haver said he could not discuss the details of the investigation, although he said detectives are "still chasing down a couple different things.”
Generally speaking, Haver said investigations of this nature entail “gathering any type of evidence that we can possibly think of.”
This includes witness statements, phone records, video evidence, and anything else detectives might deem important. Detectives might also look into a suspect’s past, Haver said, depending on the case.
“You name it, we’re going to collect it,” Haver said. “It’s better to have it and not need it than [to not have it].”
Swanson was arrested Sept. 24 and charged with gross sexual imposition – a fourth-degree felony – after an alleged incident Sept. 21 at the Ohio Eastern Star Home in Mount Vernon, according to court and police records.
The arrest warrant for Swanson, filed in Mount Vernon Municipal Court last week, 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.
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 pleaded not guilty in Mount Vernon Municipal Court on Sept. 27 and was released from the Knox County Jail on his own recognizance, on the condition that he stay off the premises of the Ohio Eastern Star Home.
Swanson, a longtime volleyball coach and physical education professor at MVNU, has been placed on administrative leave, according to a statement from the university.