MRESC suspends Heather O'Donnell





Heather O’Donnell, facing felony charges of child endangering, has been suspended from her job as superintendent of the Midwest Regional Education Service Center.

The MRESC governing body met late Friday morning and into the afternoon in an extended executive session with an attorney.

Board members voted to suspend her “from all duties involving the care, custody or control of a child and placed her on paid administrative leave,” according to a release from the board.

Rick Smith was appointed as acting superintendent with the board stating, “we need an experienced leader who can focus on the business of the ESC.

O’Donnell, 46, was charged this week with two counts of third-degree child endangering.

Her husband, Patrick O’Donnell, 52, has been charged with four counts of first-degree felony rape, four counts of second-degree felony sexual battery, five counts of third-degree felony gross sexual imposition and a single count of fourth-degree felony gross sexual imposition.

Both appeared Friday morning separately before Logan County Common Pleas Court Judge William T. Goslee.

Represented by Sam Shamansky, each enter not guilty pleas to the charges.

Bond was set at $150,000 for Patrick and $25,000 for Heather. Both were out of the Logan County Jail later Friday.

Judge Goslee ordered that neither are to have direct or indirect contact with the 13-year-old female victim.

Patrick is further restrict to no travels outside Logan County unless it is to meet with his attorney in Columbus. He also is not allowed to have contact with any children unless another adult is present and that includes his twin, 13-year-old daughters from a previous marriage.

Washington Township Police arrested Patrick on June 19 after investigating allegations of sexual abuse levied by the victim. The incidents allegedly started in 2013 and continued through 2016.

As part of the investigation, investigators learned the victim told Heather of the abuse and she did not report it to authorities. Prosecutors contend she was in a position to protect the victim.

Patrick, who was the superintendent of Indian Lake Local School District, has been suspended without pay as the district’s board moves to terminate his employment.

The allegations occurred at a private residence and did not involve an Indian Lake student.

As for Heather’s future with the MRESC, the MRESC board stated, “The charges against Mrs. O’Donnell are horrible. The justice system will proceed and determine her guilt or innocence to these charges.

“Ohio law requires that we afford Mrs. O’Donnell with certain due process rights regarding her employment with the ESC. We are in the process of taking the next steps and anticipate moving forward regarding her employment in the near future.”