COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge sentenced a man on Wednesday to 55 months in prison for harassing an Ohio sheriff and his family over almost two decades by sending dozens of threatening letters and creating slanderous websites. Judge Michael Watson also sentenced defendant William Young to three years of supervised release, instructed Young to undergo mental health counseling, and banned him from having any contact with the sheriff or his family.
Young received credit for 303 days in jail.
Young will "rue the day" if he violates any aspect of these orders, the judge said. He noted that Young was so obsessed with his harassment that he didn't realize his own father had died - a fact Young learned when reading a report analyzing sentencing options.
"What you've engaged in here is so far beyond the pale," Watson said. "It evidences a 20-year fixation on intentional harassment that deprived them of their ability to enjoy life."
Young, in jail togs and shackled at the wrists and ankles, told the judge he was "absolutely" remorseful, apologized to Sheriff Russell Martin and his family, and promised he had no intentions of ever repeating the behavior, under supervision or not.
Authorities said the harassment began in 1999 when Young, of Columbus, was arrested by Martin, then a Delaware County police officer, on a menacing charge.
Investigators said the 54-year-old Young sent letters over the years to Martin's wife, doctor and barber and to numerous other people. Young also created websites falsely accusing Martin of various sexual allegations, authorities said.
"I'll force his hand if the powers that be make the mistake of coming after me again," Young said in a 62-page letter sent to Martin's wife in 2015, according to an affidavit. "Then I'll take everyone down who had a hand in what was done to me one by one."
Protecting his family during two decades of constant threats from a stalker took a significant toll and required many lifestyle changes, Martin told the judge Wednesday.
"This constant state of attentiveness and efforts to maintain as possible a normal lifestyle has taken a significant toll on me and those closest to me," Martin said, reading a statement to the judge. "We've been denied a normal lifestyle, even for someone involved in investigating and apprehending dangerous criminals."
The first moments of peace in years came when Young was charged and jailed last year, said Martin, 60. He said he and his wife celebrated by enjoying a popsicle on their patio.