Court Upholds Congressman’s Sex Charge Conviction
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ A state appeals court today upheld the conviction of Rep. Donald Lukens on a charge that he had sex with a teen-age girl.
The 59-year-old Middletown Republican was convicted in May 1989 of a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the unruliness of a minor. He was accused of paying a girl to have sex with him at his Columbus apartment in November 1988 when she was 16.
A Franklin County Domestic Relations judge sentenced Lukens to 30 days in jail and fined him $500. He has been free on bond, pending his appeal.
His attorneys contended Lukens was denied a fair trial because Judge Ronald Solove would not allow juvenile and school records of the girl, Rosie Coffman, to be admitted as evidence. They said the records would have raised questions about the girl’s credibility.
But the 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals upheld the conviction today, saying that even if the girl’s credibility could have been be questioned, there was other evidence to support the conviction.
″Defendant has failed to show the relevancy of these records, nor has defendant supplied this court with any authority to support their admissibility,″ the court said.
With his legal troubles dogging him for a year, Lukens in May lost a bid for his third consecutive term and fifth overall. He finished third in a field of four Republican candidates in the 8th District primary election. He will leave office in January.
A week before the election, he publicly apologized for what he called ″a dumb mistake″ and asked voters to forgive him. But he maintained that he was innocent of the charge.
Lukens was not immediately available, but an aide said there would be no comment. ″The decision speaks for itself,″ said Joe Bukovac.
Allegations that Lukens had sex with the girl surfaced in early 1989. Shortly afterward, a Columbus television station broadcast a videotape of a November 1988 meeting between Lukens and the girl’s mother, Anna Coffman, who confronted Lukens about the relationship. Lukens did not know the meeting at a local fast-food restaurant was being taped by a TV crew.
On the tape, Lukens offered to find Mrs. Coffman a government job after she accused him of ″messing around″ with her daughter.
Lukens served two terms in Congress, from 1967 to 1970, and then made an unsuccessful attempt to gain the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Ohio. After 15 years in the Ohio Senate, he was returned to Congress by voters in 1986. He was re-elected in 1988.