CLEVELAND -- A grand jury has charged a Cleveland employee with the kidnapping, attempted rape and gross sexual imposition in connection with two women he was trying to help get back on track.
James E. Box, a well-known community activist with a criminal past whom the city hired in 1999, has been suspended without pay from his $46,000-a-year job as a project director in Cleveland's Community Relations Department. Box had been on administrative duty since the allegations of inappropriate sexual contact first arose early last year.
Box is accused of attacking two women in the fall of 2011, according to the indictment handed up the grand jury. One of the alleged assaults occurred in Cleveland while the second reportedly happened in Shaker Heights.
Box was not immediately available for comment.
Cleveland Police first learned of the allegations on January 10, 2012, when a Probation Department supervisor contacted the sex crimes unit.
But Cleveland Police did not contact Shaker Heights about the incident there until March 9, 2012, said Shaker Heights Police Chief Scott Lee.
That call was placed three days after the Investigator Tom Meyer first asked Cleveland Police about the allegations against Box.
Box was mentoring the women in his role as an instructor with Amer-I-Can, an at-risk youth program, that is run by former Cleveland Brown running back Jim Brown, according the police reports.
The two women were undergoing the counseling with Amer-I-Can as a condition of their enrollment in Cleveland Municipal Court's "Get on Track" program. Get on Track is supposed to help low-level offenders turn their lives around and get a high school diploma.
The first incident happened in August 2011 after Box went to the woman's apartment to help fix her car, according to a Cleveland Police report.
After being invited into her home for a drink, Box grabbed the woman and pushed her against a wall, the report said. The woman resisted as Box talked about having sex.
"Box then unzipped his pants and exposed his penis," the detective noted in the report. "(The woman) told him to leave and he did."
City Prosecutor Victor Perez determined there was insufficient evidence to charge Box with a felony following an investigation by Cleveland Police's sex crimes unit, a police report said. He later recommended Box be charged with a misdemeanor for exposing himself to the woman.
Box is charged with kidnapping, attempted rape and attempted sexual battery in connection with the incident, according to court papers.
The second incident happened in October 2011, according to a statement from by second woman, which was obtained by Channel 3 News.
The statement says that Box offered the woman a ride home but made a detour to his office at Amer-I-Can on Lee Road in Shaker Heights. Box then took her into a room, started to kiss her and then engaged in sexual contact, the victim wrote.
When she asked Box to stop, the woman wrote, "He also offered me money for sex and offered to take me to a hotel."
Box is charged with kidnapping, attempted rape, attempted sexual batter, gross sexual imposition and soliciting in connection with the incident.
Box is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on April 3 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.