A former Powell business owner was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday afternoon after he pleaded guilty to having sex with his underage employees.
Danny Kitsos, 53, of Columbus, the previous owner and operator of Rita’s Ice, an establishment in Powell, appeared in Delaware County Common Pleas Court to be sentenced on a charge of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of sexual battery, third-degree felonies.
Kitsos entered a guilty plea to the charges at a hearing in August as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, one count of rape, a first-degree felony; one count of sexual battery, a third-degree felony; two counts of compelling prostitution, third-degree felonies; and five charges of selling, purchasing, distributing or delivering dangerous drugs, fourth-degree felonies, were all dismissed.
At his change of plea hearing, Kitsos confessed that between September 2015 and October 2015 he touched a girl older than 13 but younger than 16 at his business. The girl reportedly worked at the business.
Kitsos also confessed to having oral sex with two female employees while they were intoxicated on alcohol at the business. These victims were reportedly 16 or 17 at the time.
At the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Assistant County Prosecutor Douglas Dumolt and Kitsos’ attorney, Brian Jones, jointly recommended that Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Everett Krueger sentence Kitsos to 54 months in prison, which was the sentence the parties agreed to when they signed the plea agreement.
However during his recommendation, Dumolt said he did not believe the sentence was serious enough to match the offenses and said the victims have suffered psychological harm as the result of Kitsos. Dumolt admitted that the sentence was part of the agreement and was a fair sentence because it meant the victims did not have to go through a lengthy trial.
After hearing from Jones, who argued the sentence was sufficient, Krueger asked Kitsos if he had anything to say before being sentenced.
“I really regret the situation,” Kitsos said.
Krueger said though he usually goes along with sentencing recommendations as the result of plea agreements, he did not feel the 54 months in prison recommendation was reasonable.
Krueger then sentenced Kitsos to 24 months for each of the three charges and ordered they be served consecutively. Additionally, Krueger ordered that Kitsos pay a fine of $10,000 and ordered that he register as a Tier 3 sex offender. Kitsos was also ordered to serve five years of post-release control after he is released from prison.
Kitsos was in the Delaware County Jail Wednesday awaiting transport to prison.
Prosecutors said at Kitsos’ arraignment that the investigation began when one victim told her parents about the abuse and her parents contacted Powell police.
A warrant was issued for his arrest after he was indicted March 24. Prosecutors said that Kitsos turned himself in that afternoon.
Matt Simon, the current owner of Rita’s Ice, said in March that Kitsos had signed over the business earlier that month and has nothing to do with it now. Simon said Rita’s Ice is still open and under his ownership now. Rita’s Ice, which sells frozen custard and Italian ice, has four franchises in central Ohio.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.