Prosecutor criticizes Hudson mayor Craig Shubert for triggering threats

Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert will not face criminal charges following the firestorm he started in September by demanding the resignation of the school board or facing criminal charges for false allegations of authorization of child pornography in a college class.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh released her ruling on Tuesday, accompanied by a scathing rebuke from the mayor in a six-page report detailing her office’s investigation into the false allegation and the numerous threats against members of the school board that followed.

“While my office’s report on this matter may appear harsh, the reckless conduct of the mayor of Hudson has resulted in threats, fear and hate speech across the country,” Walsh said in a statement.

Walsh, who also lives in Hudson, is a Democrat. Shubert, who holds a ceremonial post as mayor of Hudson, is a Republican.

Chronology: Events in the Hudson’s Book controversy following the mayor’s threat to indict the school board

The report, released hours before a regular Hudson City Council meeting, explained for the first time how the problem started during a political fundraiser. (Read the full report at the bottom of this story.)

It also suggests that the lack of cooperation from two witnesses – State Senator Kristina Roegner and Summit County Family Relations Administrative Judge Katarina Cook – hampered prosecutors.

Shubert and Cook did not immediately respond to calls on Tuesday. Roegner, also a resident of Hudson, declined to answer questions but released a statement denying any involvement and claiming the prosecutor was trying to convict people in the press because she couldn’t prove a case in front of a court. court.

“Naming people in his letter and releasing it to the media is a deliberate and malicious attempt to create prejudice and border on prosecution misconduct,” Roegner said.

What we know: What do the 1,200 pages of e-mails supporting, criticizing, threatening the mayor of Hudson, the school board say?

Shubert has been touted as a hero in some national conservative circles after video of his school board ultimatum went viral and was picked up by conservative media across the country.

And the school board has been demonized, according to the report, with some afraid to leave their homes.

Despite Shubert’s calls for their resignation, outgoing board members Steve DiMauro, Alisa Wright and David Zuro were re-elected earlier this month in the race against Tory challengers Diane Demuynck and Mark Justice.

Demuynck and Justice were both in favor of greater criticism of books and academic material, and were anti-mask.

Following: Hudson School Board race heads for final stretch in eventful year

How it started

Shubert told investigators he first discovered the book “642 Things to Write” just hours before calling for the school board to quit.

Roegner, another Republican from Hudson, told him about the book during a fundraiser for a Stow city council member, according to the report.

Two of the book’s prompts suggested writing about sex scenes – one you’d show your mom and one you wouldn’t.

The mayor said he shared images from the book with another Republican, Summit County Family Relations Administrative Judge Katarina Cook.

She told him the book amounted to child pornography, Shubert told the Beacon Journal at the time. Cook later told a reporter that she was reacting as a mother, not a judge.

The mayor and Roegner left fundraising and both headed straight to the school board, according to the report.

Roegner, according to the report, left before the mayor spoke, saying:

“It has come to my attention that your educators are basically distributing what is child pornography in the classroom,” Shubert told the board. “I spoke to a judge tonight. She has already confirmed it. So I’m going to give you a simple choice: either you choose to resign from this school board or you will be charged.

City council members and residents then asked Shubert to apologize for his comments to the board, but he declined.

After the mayor refused to apologize, a group of residents started a petition in early October to remove Shubert from office.

Resident Karen Farkas said she and other organizers decided to stop collecting signatures based on recent election results, comments received from some community members and financial reasons.

“Since there is no deadline for collecting signatures, the petition campaign would resume if the mayor takes action deemed detrimental to the school board, city authorities, residents or the city,” Farkas said.

“Extremely disturbing”

The report concluded that the book – which does not contain any pictures, drawings or graphics – is not pornographic.

Shubert later told investigators he “had ‘hearing problems’ and may not have heard the judge properly,” when he thought she said he was was child pornography, according to the report.

The judge declined to speak to investigators, according to the report.

Still, the report points out that weeks after Shubert issued the ultimatum, when it was clear the book was not child pornography, Shubert appeared to support the charges, accepting the praise from the candidate for the US Senate. Josh Mandel.

In a Facebook video on Oct. 18 – just weeks before the school board election – Mandel claimed the Hudson school board “was pushing all this inappropriate sexual stuff on little kids in schools.”

Mandel then explained Shubert’s ultimatum to the board and said, “This guy is one of my heroes. He should be a hero of moms and dads, and Judeo-Christian values, and just traditional American values ​​throughout this country. “

Shubert, according to the report, nods as Mandel speaks. Then he turns to the camera, waves and says, “Hello everyone. Good to see you.”

The report called the repeated adoption of the false claim “extremely disturbing.”

Repercussions of the mayor’s claims

Meanwhile, two school board members documented a total of more than 150 calls and emails, which were turned over to police, according to the report.

Due to its working relationship with schools, Hudson Police forwarded the threats to county prosecutors for independent investigation, according to the report.

School board members told investigators they “feared for their safety and that of their families,” according to the report.

“They were afraid to leave their homes, forced to close their curtains and had friends who refused to socialize with them out of fear for their personal safety,” the report said.

The Beacon Journal has already detailed numerous threats, some of which characterized board members as perverts, devil worshipers, or anti-Semitic insults or harming them.

Some of those who made the threats could have been charged with misdemeanors and felonies, including aggravated threats, ethnic intimidation and other crimes, according to the report.

But investigators have so far been unable to determine who they are. Investigators traced some of the emails to an encrypted server in Switzerland, but are unsure who sent them.

They encountered the same problem with unidentified calls from out of state.

Other calls were “vile” and “offensive” – ​​including one made by someone who had previously threatened a US senator – but not criminal, according to the report.

Is Mayor Shubert to blame?

Prosecutors said it was not clear whether Shubert acted “knowingly” or was “just a pawn,” according to the report.

“It is clear that Craig Shubert had aided, abetted and instigated these people with his unfounded and unsubstantiated statements which led to these potential crimes,” the report states.

Roegner and Cook could have helped investigators with this issue, according to the report, but both refused to cooperate.

“If Judge Cook or State Senator Kristina Roegner would cooperate and speak with our investigators, we might better assess or reassess Craig Shubert’s intent,” the report said.

Unless that happens, the report found that “although Craig Shubert’s behavior was misguided and inappropriate, there is not enough evidence to lay criminal charges at this time.”

College level class

Hudson City School District Superintendent Phil Herman on Tuesday thanked the prosecutor’s office for the investigation.

“The report of this investigation highlights important facts and the conclusion of the prosecutor’s office speaks for itself,” he said.

Herman said it had been “a painful time for our school district – but also a time when the character of our community emerged in the resounding call for respectful speech, especially when difficult concerns are raised.”

The report states that Hudson’s teachers did not assign specific writing prompts from the book. Instead, students were allowed to choose their own prompts.

“We have no evidence that a student wrote on any of the prompts in question,” the report said, referring to anything sexually explicit.

Even if they had, the book was one of many used in a College Credit Plus creative writing course at Hudson High School, in association with Hiram College.

The class is part of a statewide program where high school students earn college credit for courses approved and taught in an associated college or university program.

The curriculum, according to the report, began in fall 2015 and was recently updated by the Ohio legislature with a disclaimer that these courses may include material of “a graphic, explicit, violent or sexual nature.” which will not be changed.

Parents must sign a waiver in order for their children to enroll in College Credit Plus, recognizing adult content.

The report points out that Roegner – who first raised questions about the guest writing book with the mayor – was one of the sponsors of the bill that included that language.

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