(ASHTABULA, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced charges against a northeast Ohio business owner and councilman who is accused of sexually assaulting and/or paying for sexual activity involving multiple juveniles between 1997 and 2005.
An Ashtabula County Grand Jury indicted Phillip Garcia, 63, of Conneaut, on five felony counts of rape, fifteen felony counts of compelling prostitution, two felony counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and four felony counts of corruption of a minor.
Authorities with the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office launched the investigation into Garcia, the owner of Phil’s Catering in Ashtabula and a councilman for the city of Conneaut after one of the alleged victims came forward in June.
The charges relate to five juveniles who were between the ages of 13 and 17 when the crimes allegedly occurred. Four of the alleged victims were employees of the defendant’s catering business.
“We do have concerns that there could be additional victims who have not yet been identified, and we urge anyone with information pertinent to the investigation to come forward,” said Attorney General DeWine.
The case is being prosecuted by attorneys with Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section as part of the Attorney General’s Crimes Against Children Initiative. The initiative was formed in 2011 to help local authorities investigate and prosecute those who commit crimes against juveniles.
Authorities with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted with the case.