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Rep. Lukens Convicted of Sex With Teen-Age Girl

May 26, 1989|From Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Rep. Donald E. (Buz) Lukens (R-Ohio) was convicted today of having sex with a 16-year-old girl whose mother accused the congressman of offering a government job to buy her silence.

Jurors returned the verdict after deliberating about one hour.

Lukens, a hard-line conservative, showed no emotion when the verdict was read.

The 58-year-old divorced congressman was charged with contributing to the unruliness and delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Franklin County Domestic Relations Judge Ronald Solove ordered a presentence investigation but did not set a sentencing date.

Lukens stood during the reading of the verdict. Afterward, he remained at the defense table momentarily and then was escorted out of the courtroom by his lawyer. He made no comments to reporters.

The girl, Rosie Coffman, was not in the courtroom when the verdict was announced. Neither was her mother, Anna, who also testified during the trial.

Asked for comment, Lukens' chief of staff, Bill Jarrell, looked down, shook his head and whispered, "Not now." He said he did not know whether Lukens would go back to Washington immediately or stay in Columbus.

Mark Serrott, an associate of Lukens' attorney, Thomas Tyack, said the verdict will be appealed.

The prosecutor said in summation arguments that Lukens endangered the girl's morals, but Lukens' attorney attacked the 16-year-old's reputation.

"You've got to have some morals to get them endangered, don't you?" Tyack said in his closing statement.

Assistant Prosecutor Rita Mangini told the jury Lukens gave the girl alcohol, paid for her cab ride to his apartment and had sex with her.

He also tried "to get her to commit a lesbian act with another . . . individual," she said. Lukens also caused Coffman "to associate with immoral persons, namely the defendant."

In testimony Thursday, a private investigator said Lukens expressed fear for his political career the night he admitted that he had sex with a minor.

In previous testimony, Coffman's mother said Lukens tried to bribe her with an offer to help her find a government job. Lukens claims she was trying to extort money.

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