Serial groper soon back on the street; prosecutor pushes for change


Lonnie Sturdivant is the very definition of a serial offender.

10TV has documented 11 different cases - prosecutors say there are as many as 16 - where Sturdivant has groped women.

Surveillance video has captured him on local college campuses, on COTA buses, in restaurants and hospital, touching the backsides of women he doesn't know.

He's been repeatedly convicted of sexual imposition, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of six months in jail.

He serves his time, gets out, and within days, assaults again.

"It's very frustrating to us that you can't have repeat sexual impositions escalate to a more serious offense," said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien.

O'Brien was hopeful Sturdivant's most recent case would result in a felony conviction and a lengthy sentence.

Because he'd been banned from Ohio State's campus, when Sturdivant walked into an OSU building and groped a woman last September, O'Brien charged him with burglary, a felony that carried up to eight years in prison.

This week Sturdivant pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of breaking and entering and was sentenced to one year in prison. With credit for time served, he'll be back on the streets next month.

10TV asked O'Brien what he says to previous victims and others frustrated that more isn't being done to keep the public safe from Sturdivant.

"I say, I sympathize and agree with that viewpoint, and would like to see the legislature increase these penalties for repeat offenders," O'Brien said. "Because certainly whether it's an exposing, or a sexual imposition that involves touching, treating those as misdemeanors for someone who keeps doing it, is not protecting the public."

After seeing 10TV's coverage of the Sturdivant case, State Representative Jim Hughes wrote legislation that would double the jail time for a misdemeanor sex crime after the third offense. House Bill 96 is now in the House Criminal Justice Committee.