Legal expert: Prosecutors send a message with charges against former Cleveland schools employee connected to Capitol riot

Legal expert: Prosecutors send a message with charges against former Cleveland schools employee connected to Capitol riot
This photo of Christine M. Priola was shared on social media with the hopes of identifying her for DC Police and the FBI. (Source: DC Police Department)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A legal expert suggests the federal case against a former Cleveland Metropolitan School District employee connected to the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol was filed to send a firm message before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“I think the prosecutors had no interest in standing for it,” said Cleveland-based attorney Jared Klabenow. “They wanted to immediately send a message to the general public that they’re not going to stand for it, and - more importantly - anyone who tries to go next week during the inauguration and cause similar disruptions will not be tolerated.”

Christine Priola, 49, of Willoughby, is charged with:

  • Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority
  • Violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds
  • Unlawful activities on Capitol grounds, parades, assemblages and display of flags

She made her initial appearance by video conference on Thursday.

She was released on $20,000 unsecured bond and will be subject to electronic monitoring.

“Look into the pedophilia. This world is run on the blood of innocent children,” Priola told reporters late Thursday night after being processed at the U.S. Courthouse downtown.

Priola was an occupational therapist for CMSD and resigned on January 7th, one day after the siege at the Capitol.

In her resignation letter, she wrote, “I will be switching paths to expose the global evil of human trafficking and pedophilia, including in our government and children’s services agencies.”

“What’s so sad about this story is that all over the country people are seeing individuals in their community, who were educating their children or working at a local restaurant or a local bar ... who were involved in this,” Klebanow said.

CMSD condemned the riots, but not did name Priola specifically in doing so.

School officials declined to comment after charges were filed.

“Good on CMSD for jumping on this right away and responding to it appropriately,” Klebanow said. “Had she not resigned, I’m all but certain they would have taken the appropriate action of removing her.”

Priola’s case has been formally transferred to the District Court in Washington, D.C.

Her next appearance has not been scheduled.

Priola was allegedly among the individuals seen in photos taken from inside the Senate chambers of U.S. Capitol building after trespassers interrupted a joint Congressional session released by both the FBI and Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

According to federal investigators, Priola stood at the Senate lectern holding a sign that reads, “The Children Cry Out for Justice,” while pointing a cell phone at another individual seated at the vice president’s chair.

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