Judge dismisses wrongful death lawsuit against state filed by Reagan Tokes’ family

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - A judge with the Ohio Court of Claims has tossed out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Reagan Tokes, the Ohio State student who was kidnapped, raped and fatally shot in February of 2017 by Brian Golsby, a convicted sex offender.

Golsby, who was convicted earlier this year and is now serving out a life sentence for his role in the murder, had been released from prison just three months before Tokes’ death and was wearing a GPS ankle monitor while under the watch of the state’s Adult Parole Authority.

Despite this, 10 Investigates discovered that Golsby and other violent ex-offenders are often not watched closely after their release. Some of them have gone on to commit additional acts of violence.

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The Tokes family sued the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in May arguing that the department and its contractors, like the residential program that housed Golsby after his release, were negligent.

But in his ruling, which was filed with the Court of Claims on Sept. 4, Judge Patrick McGrath wrote: “The court does not find the Estate has pleaded any facts that establish the first requirement of any negligence action.”

Attorneys for Reagan Tokes’ family had argued that the state and its contractors knew that Golsby was at high-risk to re-offend but failed to take the proper steps to ensure the safety of others.

Attorneys for ODRC had argued that the department was immune from being sued and had no special duty to protect Reagan Tokes.

The judge agreed.

In his ruling, McGrath goes on to state:

“Moreover, the court's conclusion that DRC owed no duty in this instance is wholly consistent with the general principle that, absent a special relationship, there is no duty to control the conduct of a third person as to prevent the third person from causing physical harm to another.”

And later:

“Based on the Estate's allegation that Golsby was on post-release control when he committed the crimes against Reagan Tokes, it does not appear to the court that DRC had a duty to confine Golsby, absent a hearing regarding alleged violations of post-release control sanctions. See, e.g., R.C. 2967.28(0)(3) (effective September 13, 2016) (providing that the parole board or, pursuant to an agreement under R.C. 2967.29, a court may hold a hearing on any alleged violation by a release of a post-release control sanction or any conditions described in R.C. 2967.131 (A) that are imposed upon the release).

Golsby had committed a string of robberies in the weeks and even the day leading up to Tokes’ kidnapping, rape, and murder.

Tokes, just three months shy of graduating from The Ohio State University, was abducted from the Short North area, forced to retrieve money from a Chase ATM in German Village and later raped before being fatally shot in the head in the Scioto Grove Metro Park.

Prior to Tokes’ death, Golsby had earned sanctions while under the watch of the state for going missing from this residential housing center with The Exit Program and failing to charge his GPS ankle monitor. Golsby was slated to have a hearing with the Adult Parole Authority but was arrested for Tokes’ murder before that took place.

The lawsuit, which was filed in May by the family, concludes by stating that the Tokes family has suffered “grave mental anguish.”

An emailed message left for the Tokes’ family attorney was not immediately returned.

A message was also left for a spokeswoman for ODRC.

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