A Muskingum County couple pleaded guilty today to reduced charges stemming from a June bachelorette party that got out of hand.
A Muskingum County couple pleaded guilty yesterday to reduced charges stemming from a June bachelorette party that got out of hand.
Matthew Gross, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted gross sexual imposition, a fifth-degree felony, and a count of attempted perjury, a fourth-degree felony. He faces a maximum sentence of 2 1/2 years in prison.
His wife, Michele, a former seventh-grade math teacher at Tri-Valley Middle School, pleaded guilty to falsification and a count of furnishing alcohol to an underage person, both first-degree misdemeanors.
Sentencing for both was postponed by Muskingum County Common Pleas Judge Mark Fleegle pending a pre-sentence investigation.
Mr. Gross originally was indicted on two counts of rape after a member of the bachelorette party, a 20-year-old student at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, said he had sex with her in his backyard swimming pool, despite her verbal protests, while his wife was in a nearby lawn chair, unconscious from drinking, and the rest of the party was attending to the bride-to-be, who was sick in a bathroom.
He was tried on the rape charges in January, but a split jury resulted in a mistrial.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Gross were charged with lying to the grand jury after allegedly denying that any alcohol was served. At least one member of the party said Mr. Gross also asked her to lie to the grand jury about the presence of alcohol.
Mrs. Gross, 37, was charged with six counts of serving alcohol to underage persons and one count of perjury two weeks after her husband’s hung jury. She resigned her teaching position that same week.
“I’m satisfied that justice was served,” said Muskingum County Prosecutor Mike Haddox, adding that the victim consented to the plea agreement.
“Going through just the grand jury and an investigation for a sex-abuse victim is very scary."
Columbus lawyer Terry Sherman, who represented Mr. Gross, agreed that the deal was fair.
“He could have been facing 25 years,” Sherman said. “And getting his wife down to two misdemeanors, maybe she can still keep her teaching license.
“But I don’t think anyone’s jumping up and down for joy. He’s lost his job. His wife lost her job. His access to his children (from a previous marriage) has been limited or eliminated.
“This has destroyed him already.”