Ex-prison guard acquitted of sex with inmate charge

A jury acquitted a former prison guard on Tuesday of a sexual battery charge stemming from allegations he had sex with an inmate at Warren Correctional Institution.

Ari D. Combs, 30, of Trenton, was found not guilty of the charge, ending a two-day trial in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

“This was the verdict we expected,” defense lawyer Laura Woodruff said.

Woodruff said the case was based on lies by inmate Yancy Crawford, who testified on Monday that he gave Combs oral sex in a room at the prison in September 2019.

“It’s been a fantasy of mine,” Crawford told the jury.

Crawford is now in Ross Correctional Institution serving seven years for felonious assault and aggravated burglary in Wood County.

Assistant County Prosecutor Kevin Hardman told the jury the fact that Crawford was willing doesn’t matter under the law designed to protect inmates from crimes at the hands of guards.

Woodruff insisted Combs “did not engage in any sexual contact or conduct with the inmate.”

Instead Crawford, 27, made up the story to get a better cell assignment, Woodruff said.

Combs declined to comment. He was terminated by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction on Feb. 21.

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