Bickerton gives final warning to Boardman doctor
LISBON — John Yerkey, a 45-year-old Salem man with a history of violating protection orders was given a final opportunity to show his behavior has changed and placed on four years of community control for two counts of violating a protection order.
“Mr. Yerkey, this is your last chance,” said Common Pleas Court Judge Megan Bickerton. “You can take it and be a better man.”
Bickerton went on to warn Yerkey against any further contact with Jamie Dattilio, his ex-wife, who spoke earlier in the hearing or anyone associated with her. Bickerton told Yerkey to move on with his life adding “she does not even exist to you anymore.”
“If you continue, what’s going to happen is that you are going to be before me and I’m going to send you to prison,” Bickerton said. “That is what is going to happen. If you violate any term or condition there is only one place for you to go and that’s prison and the 46 days (already served) are going to seem like a cake walk.”
Prior to the sentencing Dattilio tearfully talked about feeling like she is no longer a victim of domestic violence, but a survivor. She talked about several of the things Yerkey did to her, but also how she felt the system further victimized her by forcing her to talk about the abuse in custody hearings for her children with her ex-husband. Additionally, she felt she had trouble getting the police and the prosecutor’s office to believe she felt threatened by his messages.
“This is a dangerous man who needs stopped before he hurts anyone else,” Dattilio said.
In March, Yerkey had entered an Alford plea, to two counts of violating a protection order. One of the charges were for violating a protection order obtained by Dattilio, by contacting her on June 30 and again on Aug. 1 through Aug. 12.
Yerkey’s defense attorney, Gregg Rossi said at the time of the violations Yerkey was a heartbroken man with his relationship with Dattilio ending, his ex-wife keeping his children away from him and a falling out with his lifelong best friend. Rossi said Yerkey turned to alcohol and hit rock bottom when this happened. However Rossi said Yerkey has been sober since Aug. 11.
Rossi said Yerkey’s actions harmed himself personally, his reputation and his chiropractic practice in Boardman, but he has since been able to revive his practice. He also has been attending alcohol and other counseling.
Additionally, Rossi pointed out there were times throughout the relationship where Dattilio testified under oath that she was not in fear of him, that he was a great dad, but his alcohol was a problem.
Yerkey apologized to Dattilio in court, telling her he was very sorry and this was not how he wanted the relationship to go.
“When I pulled into the driveway,” Yerkey said. “I had one thing in my mind and it was saving my marriage.”
Bickerton noted Yerkey’s first time accused of similar crimes was 1994 and she noted he is just smart enough to know how far he can go and keep himself out of trouble. She talked about these crimes being his first felony charges and fifth degree felonies, which come with a presumption for community control.
In the case of Dattilio, Yerkey was accused of sending emails, mail and showing up at her home in Columbiana on more than one occasion. One of the protection order violations came while he was out on bond for a previous one, which led to Judge Mark Frost in County Municipal Court to impose on Yerkey a $100,000 bond the second time. Dattilio claimed she has not been the only woman with a protection order against Yerkey, who has had him violate it.
Yerkey tried to further explain the length of his record and the apparent repetitiveness of his disregard for protection orders..
“I can only tell you if you look a little closer, 20 years ago with this stuff there’s always a story behind those things,” Yerkey said. “But it’s a very humbling process and it does take a professional toll… I’ve been called an idiot a million times over this and maybe I was, but I know what my goal was was genuine and it was not to be controlling or deceitful or anything.”