Columbus man ordered to undergo counseling for groping girl at Zoombezi Bay

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Philip Aaron Lohbauer, 34, of the Short North, was charged with gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony because the victim was younger than 13. He had entered an Alford plea, neither disputing the facts of the case, nor admitting guilt.

DELAWARE — A Columbus man was sentenced to five years of community control and ordered to undergo mental health and sex offender treatment for inappropriately touching a young girl at Zoombezi Bay water park last summer.

Philip Aaron Lohbauer, 34, of the Short North, was charged with gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony because the victim was younger than 13. He had entered an Alford plea, neither disputing the facts of the case, nor admitting guilt.

Lohbauer was accused on June 18 of standing behind females in the wave pool and having them crash into him as waves approached. A 12-year-old told authorities that he grabbed her by the hips and pulled her into his groin.

Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge James P. Schuck also imposed a 155-day jail sentence, suspended as long as Lohbauer participates in the counseling.

Lohbauer told Schuck that he believes the victim believes that she was inappropriately touched.

“If she was here, I would like to apologize for all of this,” he said. “It’s horrible.

“I wish that she would be able to see it from a different perspective. I wasn’t trying to do anything to her.”

Lohbauer, who works at a pet store, also is required to register monthly as a Tier 1 sex offender for 15 years. He must perform 50 hours of community service, have no contact with minors or visit any water park, including Zoombezi Bay, which is run by Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.

Ryan Stickel, Delaware County assistant prosecutor, said a security report and video indicated 14 different points where Lohbauer is behind young women and girls as waves crash into them. “This wasn’t an isolated, singular event,” he said.

Brian Joslyn, Lohbauer’s attorney, said he watched the same video about 100 times and had trouble identifying Lohbauer, let alone groping.

Joslyn said he agreed to the plea to prevent the girl from having to testify.

“In this day and age, you have to protect yourself,” Joslyn said. “Don’t place yourself in circumstances where things could be questioned.

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