A former high school drama instructor accused of using a hidden camera to spy on students may never face trial.
Lawrence Dibble was charged with 20 counts of voyeurism, but each of those charges could be tossed out after a new court ruling, 10TV's Andy Hirsh reported on Friday.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said the video evidence is convincing in the case against Dibble, but unless the Supreme Court of Ohio overturns a decision to keep that evidence out of a courtroom, Dibble may never face a judge and jury.
When he turned himself in back in March 2010, investigators said the evidence against Dibble was overwhelming. The former drama director is accused of videotaping girls changing in a dressing room at the Wellington School, a private school in Upper Arlington.
""I don't think there's any dispute about the content of the video tape," O'Brien said.
But what is being disputed is whether or not the videos should have been found, Hirsch reported.
A detective made the discovery after a search warrant turned up dozens of tapes, DVDs, CDs and other evidence.
But the evidence was thrown out by a judge.
The issue centers on how an Upper Arlington police detective got another judge to sign off on that warrant.
In the warrant, the detective lists a "victim 1" and a "victim 2," who was also referred to as "E.K." The warrant states the second victim claimed Dibble took photos of her nude, but Dibble's defense attorneys argue that she was not victimized. They said she and Dibble were in a consensual relationship after she graduated, and after she turned 18, Hirsch reported.
That scenario led to evidence being tossed out, and left prosecutors with a big dent in their case.
"We can't use it in a trial, we can't show it to a judge, we can't show it to a jury. So without that evidence, our case is gutted," O'Brien said.
Court paperwork shows none of the charges against Dibble pertained to "victim 2," therefore police had no probable cause to search Dibble's home, Hirsch reported.
The court found the Upper Arlington detective "knowingly and intentionally made false statements" to get the warrant.
"If we can't use the evidence, we'll have to dismiss the charges or the court will have to dismiss the charges," O'Brien said.
Through his attorney, Dibble declined to comment on the case Friday. His attorney said the "right decision" has now been made twice, Hirsch reported.
The Ohio Supreme Court is not required to hear the case, but a decision should be made within the next few months whether it will.
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July 3, 2010:
Prosecutor Will Appeal Loss Of Evidence In Case Against Ex-Theater Director
July 2, 2010: Evidence Tossed Out In Case Against Ex-Theater Director
March 31, 2010: Former Theater Director Out Of Jail After Voyeurism Charges
March 30, 2010: Ex-Theater Director Accused Of Taping Students Turns Self In
March 29, 2010: New Voyeurism Charges Filed Against Ex-Wellington Staffer
February 23, 2010: Sex Investigation Into Wellington Staffer Expanding
February 4, 2010: Man Facing Sexual Imposition Charges Never Applied For Ohio Teaching License
February 4, 2010: Wellington Staffer Charged With Gross Sexual Imposition
February 3. 2010: Man Accused Of Fondling Student