Warrant That Put Schoolteacher in Prison Questioned...Again


The Franklin County Court of Appeals ordered the judge who sentenced a teacher to four years in prison on voyeurism charges to review, yet again, the warrant that produced condemning evidence.

Last August, former Wellington School teacher Lawrence Dibble was sentenced to four years in prison on voyeurism charges based strongly on evidence that was seized after a warrant granted police access to the teacher's home. That warrant is again in question, and if found deficient, could lead to a suppression of key evidence.

The case was initially heard before the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in 2010. The judge presiding over the case, Tim Horton, ruled that because a detective made false statements in the affidavit in order to obtain the warrant to search Dibble's Dublin home, the motion to suppress evidence should be granted.

In 2013, the Ohio Supreme Court overruled Horton's justification of granting the motion to suppress, so Horton ruled that the evidence was admissible after all. While Horton maintained his belief that a detective lied on the affidavit to obtain the warrant, the search was lawful and did not violate the Fourth Amendment because the detective acted "in good faith." This happened in April, and four months later, Dibble was sentenced.

Dibble was charged with multiple counts of felony and misdemeanor voyeurism after video evidence indicated he had been secretly videotaping girls at the Upper Arlington school he taught at while they were undressing. Because Dibble pleaded no-contest to his charges, this allowed him to continue pursuing an appeal.

The appeals court in last week's ruling stated that Horton would again have to review the warrant in Dibble's case because he "failed to consider whether (the detective's) affidavit is so lacking in ... probable cause as to render the belief in its existence entirely unreasonable."