A Summit County judge has denied a Garfield Heights man’s request to withdraw his guilty pleas for sexually assaulting several Stow girls.
Scott Brundage claimed he was coerced into pleading guilty by his attorneys, but prosecutors argued he had buyer’s remorse.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands agreed with prosecutors.
"The court finds defendant has not demonstrated a reasonable and legitimate basis for withdrawal of his guilty plea," Rowlands wrote in her recent decision.
Brundage will be sentenced at 2 p.m. June 25.
Brundage, 51, accepted a plea agreement with prosecutors April 2 after his trial had started, with a jury picked and opening statements about to begin. He pleaded guilty to rape and five counts of gross sexual imposition. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss several other charges.
On the eve of Brundage’s sentencing, he sent a letter to Rowlands that claimed his court-appointed attorneys told him he would be able to walk his 17-year-old daughter down the aisle at her wedding if he accepted the deal. He said he understood this to mean he would get less than five years.
Under the plea agreement, Brundage faces up to 29 years in prison. If he had gone to trial and been convicted of all of the charges against him, he faced life in prison.
Prosecutors say the girls ranged in age from 9 to 14 at the time of the incidents. An investigation began when the youngest girl reported in January 2017 that Brundage had sexually assaulted her, police said.
Police determined the girl’s sisters also were assaulted between August and late November 2016. In March 2017, another woman reported that Brundage had also assaulted her daughters.
During a hearing on Brundage’s request to withdraw his pleas in May, prosecutors played a jail call Brundage made on the day of his plea in which he said he wanted to withdraw his plea. He said Rowlands could impose a sentence of 3 to 29 years — and he was concerned she’d land on the higher end.
"I didn’t do this s***," Brundage said in the call. "Why not at least go to trial and have the chance to beat it?"
Rowlands pointed to this phone call in her ruling that denied Brundage’s plea-withdrawal request.
"The fear of not knowing his sentence compelled defendant to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea," the judge said.
Rowlands said this phone call, as well as other evidence, show Brundage "understood the nature of the charges, potential penalties and the consequences of his plea."
"A mere change of heart regarding a guilty plea and the possible sentence is insufficient justification for the withdrawal of a guilty plea," the judge said, quoting from an appellate court decision.
Kirk Migdal, Brundage’s new court-appointed attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.