The Columbus Dispatch

Crimes span 1 1/2 years, ending when a victim trapped him

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
NEWS   01B

By Bruce Cadwallader

Illustration: Photo

The so-called naked photographer wore a blue suit in court yesterday to plead guilty to 53 misdemeanor counts of public indecency, sexual imposition and trespassing.

Stephen P. Linnen, 34, a former lawyer for the Ohio House Republican caucus, will be sentenced Sept. 27 by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Tommy Thompson. He remains free on bail.

Five of his victims glared at his back in court, but Linnen said nothing to them. One woman in the back row shouted, "Thanks for the apology,'' as he was led from the courtroom by defense attorneys Sam Shamansky and William Meeks.

The five women in court yesterday were among 40 named in the indictment against Linnen, who typically walked up naked to unsuspecting women and photographed their reactions.

He wore only a black stocking cap and sunglasses in a string of crimes from March 2002 to November 2003, said Assistant County Prosecutor Dan Hawkins.

"A total of 13 incidents included the touching and fondling of women,'' Hawkins said. "In one case, he chased one of his victims to her apartment door.''

Police found photos, rolls of film, a digital camera and thousands of pornographic images in searches of Linnen's car and apartment at 815 N. High St. in the Short North.

Prosecutors said they are asking for the maximum 18-month prison sentence in a joint recommendation with the defense. Thompson also will be asked to label Linnen a sexually oriented offender, which means he will have to report his address to the county sheriff for the next 10 years.

Linnen, who is divorced, graduated from the University of Akron law school in 1999 and became a legislative aide for a Republican senator from Lima. He later moved to the House of Representatives as a caucus lawyer.

Although police in Columbus and Gahanna had been tipped to Linnen as a suspect months earlier, he wasn't arrested until a victim turned the tables on him. A 21-year-old Ohio State University senior trapped a naked Linnen in a Harley Drive laundry room long enough to tear off his hat and sunglasses and call 911. Linnen was found hiding nearby.

Above: Stephen P. Linnen, the so-called naked photographer, pleads guilty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to public indecency, sexual imposition and trespassing.
(2) Left: Linnen's camera, sunglasses and cap -- the only items he wore during some of his crimes -- are displayed on the prosecutors' table.
(3) One of Stephen P. Linnen's victims, Crystal Morgan, of Gahanna, watches as he pleads guilty to 53 misdemeanors yesterday.

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