COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A Columbus police officer will not serve time in jail after pleading no contest to soliciting a prostitute.
Officer Bobby Schoolcraft, a five-year officer with the Columbus Division of Police, is on desk duty at the department and has been ordered to attend “john school.”
According to court documents, Schoolcraft is charged with soliciting and engaging in sexual activity with a woman who has a history of drug abuse and prostitution.
That woman, Amber Cornelius, is currently in jail in Franklin County for unrelated drug possession charges. She declined an interview with NBC4 on Wednesday.
In court Wednesday, Schoolcraft pleaded no contest to a solicitation charge, a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of six months in jail. A charge of prostitution was dismissed.
Asked why Schoolcraft solicited a prostitute, his attorney, Mark Collins, said, “Those are personal things that he’s dealing with. He knows the ramifications, the human trafficking ramifications and that’s what upsets him most about his actions.”
NBC4 obtained a copy of Schoolcraft’s personnel record, which makes note of medals and compliments he’s received for his work with the department since 2010.
“Unfortunately, he made a terrible choice,” Collins said. “He’s human just as we all are and he made a mistake and now he’s taking responsibility for that mistake.”
Michael Allbritain, an assistant city attorney in Columbus, spoke to NBC4 by phone Wednesday afternoon to explain what “john school” entails, although he said he didn’t know if Schoolcraft would be attending john school locally.
Allbritain, who has been running the quarterly program in Columbus since 2009, said johns attend the program to learn about the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking.
According to Allbritain, his is a one-day program that runs on a Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Johns listen to different volunteer speakers, ranging from law enforcement to public health workers to human trafficking survivors.
He noted that he caps the program at 50 johns each time because there are so many who want to take part.
Schoolcraft’s attorney said most people enter john school as a diversion program, after which charges are dropped. But he said Schoolcraft is being held to a higher standard.
“He’s getting more punishment than if an average citizen […] walked off the street and did this,” Collins said.
He said Schoolcraft was trying to save his job and that they were not sure what the police department would do.
“You can try to make an example of Bobby and say, ‘Absolutely not, he shouldn’t be allowed in,’ or use him as an example of someone makes a mistake, gets the proper counseling and treatment and takes responsibility for their actions,” Collins said.
A spokesperson for Columbus police said the police chief will decide how Schoolcraft will be disciplined. That decision will then be referred to the Public Safety Director. Beyond that, the department said it couldn’t comment on the personnel matter.
Schoolcraft has until June 15 to attend john school. If he does not comply, he could spend 10 days in jail.
NBC4 learned Schoolcraft is one of three officers currently on desk duty, under investigation for solicitation and prostitution. The department said all three cases are separate and that the other two officers have not been charged.