MILLERSBURG -- A Massillon man on Jan. 20 was sentenced to 16 months in prison for admittedly assaulting a woman in July.
Ross D. Rowley, 34, of 1750 Jefferson St. NE, previously pleaded guilty in Holmes County Common Pleas Court to a reduced charge of domestic violence. The charge and another, which was dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea, initially were made third-degree felonies because Rowley has twice before -- in December 2013 and December 2015 -- been convicted of domestic violence.
Defense attorney Mark Baserman Jr. asked for leniency, noting continuation of a previously scheduled sentencing hearing, at his own request, delayed disposition of Rowley's case and made it possible for him to not only violate the terms of his bail, but commit another criminal offense while awaiting sentencing.
On Dec. 23, Rowley tested positive for alcohol. The following day, he was arrested for and charged with domestic violence against the same victim. He subsequently pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of obstructing official business, domestic violence and resisting arrest.
"It's not your fault he was arrested on another domestic violence (charge)," Judge Robert Rinfret told Baserman, who notes, "It fits the pattern of not being able to control himself (while drinking)."
Questioned about the role of alcohol in his life, Rowley told Rinfret, "I have a serious problem with alcohol."
And, reading down a list, dating back to 2003, of prior convictions, including underage consumption, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, drunken driving, Rinfret noted all seem to have been facilitated by alcohol.
"If I had a problem with alcohol, I would have done something about it," Rinfret said, adding, "Alcoholism is a disease, but if you had cancer, you would go to a doctor and get treated. You've had a problem all these years and you've never done anything about it."
Rowley agreed, saying, "I'm a good person when I'm not drinking."
Rinfret countered, adding, "You're not a good person when you are drinking."
In contrast to Baserman's plea for leniency, Holmes County Assistant Prosecutor Steve Knowling asked for incarceration, noting, Rowley's break came when the charge was reduced from a third-degree felony to a fourth-degree felony, reducing the maximum sentence from three years to 18 months in prison.
Rinfret agreed. "You're going to go to prison," he told Rowley, adding he would later consider granting early release into a treatment program at the Stark Regional Community Correction Center, but only if Rowley participates in programming while in prison.
The charges stem from a July 27 incident at a cabin along County Road 626.
Holmes County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the cabin after receiving a call of domestic violence.
Interviewed by an officer, Rowley denied hitting his 55-year-old mother, but said he did throw six fudge cakes at her, but was "just kidding around and not trying to knock her out," according to Chief Deputy Richard Haun.
Rowley, who had been consuming alcohol at the time, did admit to scuffling with his friend, a 32-year-old woman, whom he reportedly placed in a headlock and struck. The deputy observed bruising and redness on her, but she required no medical treatment, according to Haun.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.