Olentangy Valley News

Man charged with sexual battery at Highbanks


A Columbus man is facing sexual-battery charges after he allegedly committed a sex act with a 14-year-old girl in a Lewis Center park.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Scott W. Spencer, 57, of Farber Court in Columbus, shortly after 12:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15, at Highbanks Metro Park, according to sheriff's reports. Spencer was booked into the Delaware County jail later that afternoon.

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Tracy Whited said Spencer has been charged with two counts of sexual battery, a third-degree felony.

Whited said an alert park ranger noticed suspicious activity in the park, then detained the suspect and assisted the victim, a Columbus teen.

While the girl allegedly was restrained at the scene, Whited said the incident is not being considered a kidnapping because Spencer and the victim both admitted they agreed to meet in person after meeting online.

Whited said the victim did not suffer serious physical injuries.

Although the incident took place less than two weeks after another sexual assault was reported in the park, sheriff's officials stressed the incidents are not related.

In the first case, a Powell man reported he was sexually assaulted about 4:30 p.m. Aug. 5 in the park. The suspect in that incident is described as a middle-aged man of Indian descent who stands 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighs about 170 pounds, according to the sheriff's office.

"Even though these two incidents would appear related due to proximity of time and location, based on several factors, we are positive they are not connected," Sheriff Russell Martin said in a statement released Aug. 15.

Whited said the sheriff's office is investigating the Aug. 5 incident, but no arrests have been made.

She said the sheriff's office wanted to remind people to take common-sense precautions when visiting Highbanks Metro Park, 9466 U.S. Route 23 N., as well as other parks and walking trails.

She said visitors should always leave one ear unblocked when listening to music, travel with a cellphone and walk in groups, if possible.

"We all know (the safety tips), but we get comfortable because Highbanks has always been a safe place," she said.