WESTERVILLE — A teacher accused of sex crimes from decades ago has confessed to sexually abusing one student.
But under Ohio law, he may not face charges.
Longtime Westerville teacher, Ron Nocks, 80, is accused of sexually abusing two students some 50 years ago.
On Dec. 18, two former Westerville students — men who are now 66 and 67 years old — told Westerville school officials their former teacher sexually abused them when they were underage, and under his instruction.
But based on the age of the alleged crimes, one legal expert says there’s very little police can do.
Westerville High School yearbooks show Ron Nocks in his many roles over the decades: teacher of English, Speech, Drama, and Director of the theater program.
For the last 10 years, Nocks taught German at Columbus School for Girls.
Columbus School for Girls put Nocks on leave when police told them two former students from Westerville had accused him of sexual misconduct. On Saturday, CSG fired him when police told the school Nocks had admitted to sexual contact with one of his accusers approximately 50 years ago.
Contacted Tuesday, Nocks made the same confession to 10TV.
“I can’t and won’t be specific. It was inappropriate sexual behavior. I acknowledge that happened,” he said.
Nocks said it happened in 1968, when he was 30 or 31, with a boy that was a high school senior.
“I consider myself a moral person who made a major mistake. A colossal one,” he said. “It was a different time, at a different age, when people were young and dumb. This unfortunately occurred. I’m incredibly unhappy, embarrassed and ashamed.”
He insists it only happened with one student.
But two former students accuse him of unwelcome sexual contact. One says Nocks repeatedly touched him sexually from the time he was 15 until he was 18.
“It left a lasting impact on a 15 year-old trying to figure out who I was,” he said. “Something like that never goes away. It never stops impacting you.”
Westerville Police say they are actively investigating these allegations, and therefore can’t comment. But there is doubt, even with Nocks’ confession, that any criminal action can be taken against him.
Glenn McEntyre: “A case under these circumstances, a crime that allegedly happened 50 years ago, could it be prosecuted at all?”
“No,” OSU Law Professor Ric Simmons said. “Not for this kind of crime.”
Simmons says it all comes down to the statute of limitations.
“Rape has a 20- or 25-year statute of limitations. But this pre-dates that.”
Simmons says the statute stands, even with a confession.
“If he’s been teaching for all these decades since then, you might be able to do — and I’m sure the police will be doing –, some greater investigation into any possible allegations in more recent years, and maybe find something there. So again, he’s now on the radar screen, now they can start looking for what he’s done more recently. But these cases are gone for legal purposes.”
Tuesday Nocks told 10tv, “I could have denied it … but if I’m asking forgiveness, denial isn’t appropriate.”
Of the one accuser he acknowledges, Nocks said, “I just want him to understand how truly sorry I am. I wish I had behaved differently.”
That accuser said, “We feel guilty we didn’t have the (guts) to come out 30 years ago.”
To other victims of abuse, he says, “If you’ve hidden this for years, it’s time to step forward.”