Brown County coroner will keep her job, judge says

Dr. Judith Varnau, Brown County coroner
Dr. Judith Varnau, Brown County coroner

BROWN COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - A judge ruled in favor of the Brown County Coroner Monday, allowing her to keep her job.

In a written ruling filed Monday morning, retired Montgomery Judge John Kessler wrote there was not sufficient evidence that Dr. Judith Varnau had failed to do her job. This marks the end of the civil trial that began in May.

Varnau's attorney, Tom Eagle, says they are pleased with Kessler's decision. "The judge, who is outside of Brown County and not prejudiced or biased about the politics going on in Brown County, saw that the evidence did not rise to the level to cause an elected official to lose her job," he said.

In April, a petition was filed to oust the coroner amidst allegations she botched several death investigations. The petition got more than 2,300 signatures, triggering an official complaint to remove her from office.

The petition started with the parents of Zachary Adamson who was found dead at his home in January. The coroner ruled the death a suicide but Adamson's parents believe she mishandled the investigation.

The family's attorney says an ongoing feud between the coroner and the Brown County Sheriff's Office has led to the mishandling of cases. Sheriff Dwayne Wenninger testified during the trial, admitting to avoiding contact with Varnau because of conflicts he has had with her husband.

Varnau's husband ran against the sheriff in 2008 and lost. Since then her husband has filed multiple lawsuits against the sheriff.

Varnau's attorney countered, claiming it is the sheriff's office that is neglecting evidence at death scenes.

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