Serial groper arrested just days after release from jail


Police call Lonnie Sturdivant a serial offender, targeting women in public places and groping them.

And now investigators say he's struck again.

Sturdivant has been convicted nine times of inappropriately touching women he doesn't know.

Prosecutors say every time he gets out of jail, he does it again, most recently Thursday at Grant Medical Center in Downtown Columbus.

Sturdivant had only been out of jail five days for the very same offense.

10TV has reported on Sturdivant and his crimes several times in recent years.

Security cameras caught him in the act at a Panera near OSU in 2013, and a library at Columbus State in 2015.

He was banned from riding COTA buses for doing the same thing: sitting next to a woman he doesn't know, and then sliding his hand between her backside and her seat.

In all, he's been convicted nine times of the same offense, sexual imposition.

Friday morning, he appeared in court for what could be his tenth, after police arrested him Thursday for allegedly touching another woman at Grant Medical Center.

"Basically it's a revolving door,” Prosecutor Amy Meyers told a judge. “He does six months, he gets out. He has many, many prior sexual imposition convictions."

10TV spoke to Lara Baker-Morrish, Chief Prosecutor for the Columbus City Attorney's Office, to ask how Sturdivant is able to continue to re-offend.

“In this particular case, unfortunately the offense that he has come through in the past is sexual imposition. Sexual imposition without any prior convictions is a misdemeanor of the third degree,” she said.

With prior convictions, the charge can be increased to a first degree misdemeanor, but the maximum penalty possible is still six months in jail, no matter how many convictions.

"I wouldn't want to wish upon any of his victims that he had gone further to get it to be a felony,” said Baker-Morrish. “But the unfortunate part about this is, we are limited by what we can charge him with.

She says a case like Sturdivant’s is rare, but admits being frustrated with the limits of the law.

"At this point we feel the best way for us to keep the public safe is to keep him off the streets. But we are limited in how long we can do that."

Sturdivant is in the Franklin County Jail, held on $100,000 bond.