Saturday, March 21, 1998
Weighty issue faces court
Doors might bar 800-pound man

BY STEVE KEMME
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Butler County Juvenile Court is facing a problem of gargantuan proportions: How to get an 800-pound man through its doors.

Denny Welch, a 37-year-old Hamilton man who has appeared several times on The Jerry Springer Show, is charged with three counts of disseminating material harmful to a juvenile.

Mr. Welch, a former cross-dressing entertainer, is accused of showing pornographic videos to three juveniles, ages 10 to 13, at his house between June and December last year.

Because he is charged with a misdemeanor crime involving juveniles, juvenile court is handling his case.

But Mr. Welch, who said Friday that he is bedridden, may not be able to fit through the court's exterior doors even if he's physically able to be there.

He is scheduled to appear in juvenile court April 27 for a pre-trial hearing.

Judge Richard Niehaus has directed Rob Clevenger, director of juvenile court, to search for alternative court sites if it's determined that Mr. Welch can't get inside the juvenile court building. ''This is a first,'' Mr. Clevenger said. ''We never had this problem before.''

Mr. Welch said he now weighs between 800 and 860 pounds.

He declined to discuss the criminal charges he faces.

In 1996, he appeared on The Jerry Springer Show that was entitled, ''Jerry Rescues an Obese Man.''

Mr. Springer paid a contractor to tear down an exterior wall of Mr. Welch's home so that he could leave the house to receive help at Christ Hospital and Riverfront Diet Clinic in Covington. At that time, Mr. Welch had not been out of bed for four weeks. Through diet pills and an exercise program, Mr. Welch lost about 200 pounds. ''But last September, I had respiratory failure and almost died,'' he said. ''Since then, I've gained all the weight back.''