- Summit County Sheriff's Department
- Samantha Miskewicz's services carried a steep price tag.
It was 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning last December. Patrick McGown thought he'd skip work to run a quick errand.
He headed to the corner of Johnston and Black streets on Akron's weathered East Side, where he picked up Samantha Miskewicz, a 23-year-old addict and veteran of four previous prostitution busts. They drove to the third floor of a University of Akron parking garage. Miskewicz disappeared into McGown's lap.
Vice detectives had followed the couple. When they approached the truck, McGown tried to drive away. He stopped, emerging with his pants still undone, when a detective identified himself.
Until that moment, his had been a spotless 27-year career with the Akron Public Schools. A psychologist, he worked with expelled and suspended students, and helped kids move from juvenile hall back to school.
Had McGown been a steelworker, a trucker, or virtually anyone else, his indiscretion would have been little more than an embarrassment. In the realm of crime, commercial sex is strictly minor league. A john's greatest punishment usually awaits him at home.
But when you work with kids on the public dime, consorting with hookers is no small matter. McGown could have lost his job, his pension, and his license to practice. Luck, however, would intervene.
Though sentencing guidelines provide for 60 days in jail, Judge Annalisa Williams allowed him to enter a diversion program; $175 bought McGown five 90-minute classes on such remedial topics as the court process, how crime affects victims, good decision-making, anger management, and substance abuse.
Of course, none of these tutorials address controlling your jones for mid-morning sex in a parking garage. Which is why only 1 percent of diversion offenders are there for soliciting. "There's nothing specific in the program that would be pertinent to a charge of solicitation," says Linda Weyandt of Oriana House, which runs the program.
Aghast that their psychologist was tramping on the clock, some school officials viewed the light sentence as evidence that the fix was in. They noted that McGown's wife, Susan, is a powerful lawyer representing Akron's school district and 22 others.
They further noted that just one month after McGown was arrested, the Akron City Council organized a task force to crack down on prostitution. "It has been a big problem for people's quality of life," says Judge Elinore Stormer, a member of the task force. "There are people in their streets, they're yelling, the women are being obscene, men are circling their neighborhoods. These people are leaving behind used condoms -- it's pretty gross."
One of the city's first acts was to make the diversion program inaccessible to johns. Just as McGown's record was being erased, other first-time offenders weren't so lucky. Uniontown resident Roger Gainer, also caught soliciting sex, was slapped with 120 hours of community service, $568 in fines, and a suspended 60-day jail sentence by the same judge who sentenced McGown.
To Northeast Ohioans accustomed to believing that justice is more about who you know, rather than what's right, it all looked suspicious.
Judge Williams did not respond to repeated interview requests, but Susan McGown is shocked by the inference. Her husband's lawyer, Don Malarcik, categorically denies it: "Patrick's wife had absolutely no influence whatsoever, no one had requested her to intervene, and she did not intervene on Patrick's behalf."
Indeed, there is no evidence that Susan leaned on Williams. And McGown wouldn't be the first john to get a pass.
Then again, history suggests that Akron judges had a habit of biting harder on those in the public trust. That's partially why Chief City Prosecutor Doug Powley excluded johns from the diversion program.
"One thing that influenced my change of policy was that one of our judges decided not to allow a police officer who committed the same offense into the program," says Powley. "I understand the need to treat people to a higher standard, but there are also reasons not to give special treatment."
Though his criminal record was erased, McGown still had to face the Akron Board of Education. Superintendent Sylvester Small, who did not return Scene's repeated calls seeking comment, recommended that the board renew McGown's contract.
There was little pressure to do otherwise. The Akron Beacon Journal didn't discover the bust until four months after McGown's arrest; parents and students weren't the wiser.
In April, the board voted 4-3 to keep McGown. Most members refuse to discuss their votes, though board president Loretta Haugh is outspoken in her dissent. "I don't believe anyone with that sort of offense should be working with children," she says. "In addition to that, I would have liked to have seen proper counseling for the gentleman -- I won't call him that -- for the man."
Adds board member Mary Stormer, "One has to wonder about objectivity regarding personnel, when there are relationships that span decades."
Member Curtis Walker is more forgiving. "A lot of things happen in everyone's life, and we hope that one misfortune does not cast such a cloud that one cannot be redeemed and move forward."
It may be that both sides are right. If given a choice, few parents would want their at-risk daughters anywhere near a convicted john. Yet there's an equally compelling argument that one morning of stupidity shouldn't erase 27 years of dedicated work.
Either way, McGown isn't off the hook yet.
Last month, the board approved his application for retirement in 2005. But his case is now being investigated by the Ohio Department of Education. Its decision could force McGown to pay a hefty fine out of his retirement benefits, says Nick Treneff of the State Teachers Retirement System.
Whether his final punishment will be lost retirement pay or simply embarrassment, only one thing is certain: This was one very expensive blowjob.