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After Mistrial,Hlinovsky Seeks Dismissal of Rape Charges in Belmont County

HLINOVSKY

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Several new developments have occurred in the 2005 rape case against Fred Hlinovsky since proceedings were curtailed Wednesday.

Following a mistrial being declared Wednesday due to an apparent oversight in evidence sharing, Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra has recused himself from the case and Hlinovsky’s attorneys intend to ask for a mistrial with prejudice.

Hlinovsky, 54, of 42780 Mount Hope Road, Flushing, is facing one count of rape and one count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. The offenses allegedly happened at a residence in Holloway where Hlinovsky was visiting on Aug. 13, 2005. The alleged victim — a 14-year-old girl at the time — was also visiting the home. They did not know each other before.

More recent advances in DNA testing resulted in a possible match when DNA was submitted for retesting in 2019.

The trial began this past Tuesday but was halted in a mistrial after it came to light that a report of the sexual assault nurse’s examination of the victim apparently was not shared with defense attorneys. Vavra set a new trial for Aug. 9. He did not declare a mistrial with prejudice, which would have prevented the case from going to court again. He said the defense would have the opportunity to have the report examined by medical experts.

But a hearing took place the next morning where more issues were raised.

“One of the documents that were supposedly not provided by the sheriff, they were able to locate proof where they may have provided that a year and a half ago,” Vavra said afterward, but apparently there was a sheriff’s report that the sheriff’s office did not provide.

“I told the attorneys about that new information. I told the defense I wasn’t going to change my decision. It would be a mistrial without prejudice; however, I told the defense that they could file a motion in writing if they wanted to, to renew their request for a dismissal with prejudice,” Vavra said.

However, the decision will no longer be his.

“I had found out with this new information for the first time that my son (Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Vavra) may or may not have been involved in this case, so I recused myself, just to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest or anything else,” Vavra said.

Judge Vavra added that Joseph Vavra might have been involved in 2020 around the time of the indictment. “(Belmont County Common Pleas) Judge (Frank) Fregiato will have to decide if he wants the case, or if we’re going to ask for an appointed judge from the (Ohio) Supreme Court, a visiting judge.”

“We are absolutely going to be pursuing that written, renewed motion for mistrial with prejudice that the court gave us leave to file after it recused itself,” one of Hlinovsky’s attorneys, Elizabeth Osorio of the Law Office of Brian Jones, said. “Those records that we had all been arguing about earlier that day had been disclosed to the prosecutor’s office February of 2021.”

She said elements surrounding the process raise issues about how the case was handled.

Officials from the sheriff’s office and the prosecutor’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Fregiato could not be reached for comment Friday.

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