Carol O’Brien bid a tearful farewell to her staff and colleagues Thursday afternoon as her tenure as Delaware County prosecutor came to a close.
O’Brien has been the prosecutor since 2011 and is leaving the office after taking a position as the deputy attorney general for the State of Ohio. Christopher Betts, an attorney in the civil division of the prosecutor’s office, has been sworn in as the acting-county prosecutor and will hold the position for 45 days until the Republican Central Committee appoints someone to serve the remainder of O’Brien’s term, which runs through 2020.
One of the speakers at O’Brien’s send-off party was Heather Orr, who was the victim in a case O’Brien prosecuted a number of years ago. O’Brien said that since the case was closed, the two women have remained close friends and communicate frequently. O’Brien said she was shocked to see Orr since she moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado.
O’Brien said her passion as a prosecutor is getting justice for child victims like Orr.
“(Children) are a population with no way to protect themselves if the people who are supposed to protect them don’t,” O’Brien said, adding Orr is living proof that “the best revenge is living a good life.”
First Assistant Prosecutor Kyle Rohrer told O’Brien that it had been “an honor and privilege” to work with her, and he considers her a friend as well as a colleague.
Nicole Ford, the executive assistant and office manager at the prosecutor’s office, presented O’Brien a scrapbook of photos, notes, and other memories of her time at the prosecutor’s office.
“(It’s) very sad,” Ford said. “I’m going to miss her so much.”
Ford added that many people know O’Brien’s work as the prosecutor, but she said that those who know her as a person know that she considered everyone in her office part of her family.
“(O’Brien) is a fantastic boss,” Ford said.
O’Brien said that she “truly believes you can be a boss that cares about people.”
“Honestly, all the people who worked in this office are family to me,” O’Brien said tearfully. “This was the hardest decision I’ve ever made.”
Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin gave the final speech of the afternoon about O’Brien. Martin said he first got to know O’Brien when he was working a homicide case and learned that then-prosecutor Dave Yost, had given the case to O’Brien and Rohrer to prosecute.
“When you get involved in these matters of justice where people have been murdered … you take ownership, it’s like a kid,” Martin said. “To turn that over to somebody you don’t know that well … I will tell you, Carol and Kyle litigated that case in a way that made us all proud and brought justice to that family.”
Martin’s speech was filled with interjections and objections from O’Brien, who jokingly chided Martin for not wanting to be the officer to testify during the case.
“She litigated the most serious homicide to that point that I’d ever had, that was cold,” Martin said. “I will forever be in debt to the work she and Kyle did. That’s called loyalty. I’m forever grateful for the confidence and the professionalism and the thoroughness that she displayed in that case … The difference between Carol and a pit bull is a little bit of lipstick.”
”Very little (lipstick),” O’Brien interjected.
“When she sinks her teeth into something, it’s the real deal,” Martin said. “It’s been a great professional relationship. Delaware County is going to be at a loss not to have her. The Attorney General’s Office is going to benefit. The pursuit of justice, that’s what Carol is all about.”
O’Brien then individually thanked members of her staff.
“Everyone is passionate here,” O’Brien said. “It’s going to be really hard for me to find the same passion (outside Delaware County). You guys are phenomenal. I cannot tell you how great of a staff I have.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.