Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders followed days of vociferous criticism with action on Thursday, launching an investigation into ex-governor Matt Bevin’s decision to pardon a local man convicted in 2018 of repeatedly raping a 9-year-old girl.
Micah Schoettle, 41, would have spent 23 years in prison if not for Bevin’s intervention during his final weeks in office. Instead, as of Dec. 12, he’s a free man and will not be required to register as a sex offender.
"It shocks the conscience," Sanders said shortly after the pardon was announced. "It's offensive. It's mind-boggling how any governor could be this irresponsible. It's an abomination of the criminal justice system."
In a text to reporters, Sanders said he had requested copies of Schoettle’s pardon application and all supporting documents. He declined to specify what he hoped to find.
“I’m starting there,” he said. “I’m not going to speculate about where it will lead or what else the investigation will entail.”
Miles away, in an interview with WHAS host Terry Meiners, Bevin continued to defend Schoettle’s pardon and hundreds of others issued before his exit from Kentucky’s highest seat.
“I welcome them (prosecutors) to look at the facts,” he said. “If they can defend keeping an innocent person in jail, that’s their prerogative. I’m all for innocent people not being incarcerated.”
Bevin argued, as he did when news of the pardon became public, that Schoettle had been convicted based only on the victim’s testimony and not on physical evidence. On Thursday, he went into more detail, claiming the victim’s story that she and another girl were abused by Schoettle was a fabrication.
“Both their hymens were intact,” he said. “This is perhaps more specific than people would want, but trust me, if you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically. There was zero evidence of that. This man was convicted purely on something that there is no corroboration for.”
The victim’s mother spoke to WCPO the day she learned Schoettle would be pardoned.
"It feels like we're going through it all over again,” she said then. “We just got to the point where we felt safe leaving the house and not looking over our shoulders.”