The attorney for the 14-year-old girl who was allegedly solicited for sex by a Youngstown police detective investigating the girl’s statutory rape case said on Tuesday the girl and her family are researching to see if they can sue the city or the officer.
Attorney David Betras told WKBN.COM on Tuesday the girl is doing well following the investigation. Betras said the girl’s mother discovered that Det. Sgt. Robert Lodwick, the man assigned to investigate her case, was repeatedly sending messages to her 14-year-old daughter, asking for sex.
“It’s terrible,” Betras said. “He was entrusted to serve and protect. It’s terrible. We’re looking into who might be civilly responsible.”
Betras said the girl’s mother asked Lodwick to stop but Lodwick continued sending the girl text messages and online messages.
After the girl’s mother reported the incident to authorities and the state’s Bureau of Identification and Investigation began their investigation, Lodwick sent instant messages to the girl’s computer while BCI agents were with the girl’s mother.
BCI agents then messaged Lodwick back, Betras said, starting what eventually led to felony charges filed Friday.
“He had sensitive pictures and he abused that trust. He violated it,” Betras said. “They are forever ruined by what this man did.”
Betras said it was difficult for the family to convince investigators at first that a police officer was soliciting the girl for sex until they saw the messages.
“The family wants to make sure he’s never ever put in a position ever again where he can abuse someone’s trust,” Betras added.
Lodwick, 40, is facing second-degree felony charges of having naked photos of the girl and fifth-degree felony charges for trying to solicit the girl for sex.
The charges carry an eight-year maximum prison sentence. Lodwick remains in the Mahoning County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond. He is in protective custody because other inmates have threatened him based on the crime and because he is a former police officer. Lodwick is on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of disciplinary hearings.
Attorney Walter Richie, who represented Lodwick during his initial court appearance on Monday, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Betras said he is still researching if he will file lawsuits against the city and police department.
“We certainly have questions as to who was supervising,” Betras said. “We have strong questions to his training. It looks like he was a rogue cop. But we want to know why there aren’t procedures in place to safeguard against rogue cops.”
A police report from Feb. 15 says the girl’s mother told police the girl, then 13, snuck out of her Canfield home in the middle of the night and met with three men at Campbell High School.
The men, whose name the girl didn’t know, drove her to a home on Erie Street near Cardinal Mooney High School on Youngstown’s South Side. The girl told police she had sex with two men at different times early that morning, saying she “just went along with it” when they made advances, reports said.
Canfield police found the girl at Southern Park Mall in Boardman at about 3 p.m. that day, reports said.
Betras said the girl told him that before Lodwick showed her a photo lineup that would identify the men, Lodwick pointed out which man he believed was the suspect. Betras, a criminal defense attorney, said that would jeopardize the criminal case against the two men.
“This guy, with the photo lineup, that really affects his credibility and his ability to be a proper investigator with any case he is currently involved with or any one that he has ever been involved in,” Betras said.
Betras said he believes defense attorneys whose clients face charges based on Lodwick’s investigations could be compromised.
Betras said the family and the girl are faring well in the wake of the investigation.
“I think she’s holding up remarkably well considering what she’s been through,” Betras said. “It will be a long road though. She was 13 when he started doing this. It’s absolutely terrible.”