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The Suburbanite
  • Convicted sex offender to be released from prison early

  • Stark County Common Pleas Judge Taryn L. Heath on Monday placed James A. Irvin, 57, on probation for five years, including a term of house arrest.

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  • A former school administrator convicted of sexually abusing a student will be getting out of prison early.
    Stark County Common Pleas Judge Taryn L. Heath on Monday placed James A. Irvin, 57, on probation for five years, including a term of house arrest, and ordered him to complete sex offender treatment and perform 200 hours of community service.
    Heath also barred Irvin from any contact with the victim and any person under the age of 18, without the approval of a probation officer.
    In July, Heath sentenced Irvin to an 18-month prison term after he pleaded guilty to gross sexual imposition, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of sexual imposition and providing alcohol to an underage person. The charges involved a Timken High School student, who is now an adult.
    By law, Irvin could apply for probation after serving a month in prison, and the judge noted that he had no conduct violations while incarcerated.
    The judge also had copies of emails, sent by supporters of the victim, in opposition to Irvin’s release, said Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Lori Curd.
    Until his resignation in March, Irvin was director of pupil services for Canton City Schools, a post that paid $101,972 a year.
    He has surrendered his professional licenses, and has to register as a sex offender for 15 years.
    “It’s a chance for him to get some treatment, regroup and move forward in his life,” said defense attorney Rick Pitinii.
    If Irvin violates the terms of probation, the judge can require him to serve the balance of his sentence.
    ‘HE’S WORTHLESS’
    After the brief court hearing, the victim, 19-year-old Nick Swonger, said he was surprised the justice system would be “crazy enough to let this guy out,” and questioned the judge’s political future in light of her decision.
    “He’s worthless,” Swonger said of Irvin, a man he once considered a father figure.
    The Repository usually does not name victims of sexual abuse, but Swonger has spoken publicly throughout the case, describing how Irvin mentored him, took him to sporting events, gave him alcohol and a place to stay, and even helped his family with expenses before sexually abusing him in December 2008.
    Curd said Irvin’s release shouldn’t overshadow the good accomplished by prosecuting him.
    He is now a convicted and registered sex offender who won’t be able to work as a teacher or school administrator again, she said.
    Also, the crime he was convicted of carries a legal preference for probation instead of prison, and Irvin will be more stringently monitored on probation than he would be if he served his sentence and was released on post-release control, she noted.