OAK HILL — A Jackson County Grand Jury has indicted an Oak Hill minister on 15 felony charges related to the sexual assaults of two juveniles and an adult.
According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, Dennis Wright, 67, of Oak Hill, is charged with seven counts of rape, two counts of sexual battery, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.
Wright most recently worked as a minister to a small congregation on State Route 93 outside of Oak Hill where two of the victims, a juvenile and an adult, were parishioners. Wright is accused of assaulting the juvenile on multiple occasions between 2012 and 2015 and assaulting the adult, whose ability to resist or consent was substantially impaired, on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2010.
The investigation, which was conducted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, also uncovered a third victim who was 10 years old when Wright allegedly attacked the child between 1989 and 1990.
“This defendant used his position of authority to target vulnerable victims who placed their trust in him,” DeWine said. “The investigation has also led us to believe that there could be even more victims, and I urge anyone with additional information to come forward.”
Jackson County deputies and BCI agents took Wright into custody this afternoon.
“Today’s arrest is the result of the collaborative efforts of local and state authorities,” Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier said. “We take these allegations very seriously, and those who prey on innocent residents of Jackson County will be held accountable.”
The case is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section working as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Crimes Against Children Initiative. Eight of the charges filed against Wright include a sexually violent predator specification, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Anyone with additional information should contact BCI at 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446) or the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at 740-286-6464.