Court orders Lakota school board member Darbi Boddy to stay away from fellow board member

School Board VP gets protection order against another board member
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 1:37 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2023 at 10:47 PM EDT
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LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - A school board member in Greater Cincinnati’s second-largest school district must stay 500 feet away from one of her fellow board members at all times after his request for court-ordered protection from her was granted Wednesday.

Butler County Magistrate Matthew Reed and Common Pleas Court Judge Greg Howard both signed the civil stalking protection order for Lakota School Board Member Isaac Adi against Darbi Boddy.

“The Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that 1) (Boddy) has knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct that caused Petitioner to believe that Respondent will cause physical harm or cause or has caused mental distress; and 2) the following orders are equitable, fair, and necessary to protect the persons named in this Order from stalking offenses.”

The protection took effect at 1:05 p.m., barring her from going to his home, where he works and it means even school board meetings physically if he’s there.

The court order also directs her to avoid places she suspects he will be.

If they do wind up at the same place, say for example a restaurant or the grocery store, even if he gives her permission to stay, she must immediately leave, according to the order.

Boddy, the court directive says, “SHALL NOT INITIATE OR HAVE ANY CONTACT with the protected persons named in this Order or their residences, businesses, places of employment, schools, day care centers, or child care providers. Contact includes, but is not limited to, landline, cordless, cellular or digital telephone; text; instant messaging; fax; e-mail; voicemail; delivery service; social media; blogging; writings; electronic communications; posting a message; or communications by any other means directly or through another person.”

The court order is problematic for Boddy’s ability to vote at school board meetings.

It basically means she can’t.

She can now only possibly attend virtually if Adi is present,

The protection order provides no exceptions for her role as an elected official or school board member.

Under current state law, all elected officials must be physically present again at public meetings to vote, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

An exception was made during the coronavirus pandemic when virtual meetings became a way of life during lockdowns in Ohio and nationwide.

But as of July 1, 2022, all public bodies that are subject to Ohio’s Open Meetings Act should be meeting in person, according to the state’s attorney.

“Members of the public body must be present in person to be counted as part of the public body’s quorum and to vote on any issue considered at the meeting,” their website says.

“Further, all meetings of a public body must be open for the public to attend in person. Public bodies may continue to broadcast or livestream meetings as long as the public has the option of attending the meeting in person.”

The next Lakota school board meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 2.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli said in a statement Wednesday to FOX19 NOW: “We’ll review the order and make any needed adjustments.”

Violation of a protection order is a first-degree misdemeanor.

If these types of court orders are violated, law enforcement can make physical arrests or issue court summons.

Anyone found guilty of violating a protection order in Ohio could be punished by being ordered to pay up to a $1,000 fine and serving up to six months in the county jail (180 days).

‘I do not feel safe’

Adi and Boddy campaigned together in 2021 but he claimed in court records filed last month that he was under “mental distress” because their relationship “has deteriorated to the point that Ms. Boddy is “extremely aggressive toward me and has become very confrontational.”

“With Ms. Boddy’s aggressive and threatening behavior, I do not feel safe with her around me,” Adi wrote in a page-long document attached to his Aug. 16 petition describing why he believes she would cause him “physical harm or cause or has caused (him) mental distress.”

His initial request last month for an emergency “ex parte” protection order against Boddy was denied the same day by another Butler County magistrate.

Adi, she wrote in a court entry, “failed to present evidence” it “is necessary for (his) safety and protection from immediate and present danger.”

But Adi had the right to a second, full hearing so that took place over four hours Friday with a different magistrate presiding, Reed.

Adi, Boddy and two other school board members all testified: Julie Shaffer and Board Chairwoman Lynda O’Connor, as well as Assistant Superintendent Stacy Maney.

Boddy was the only one to testify in her defense.

O’Connor, Shaffer and Maney testified for Adi.

At the end of the hearing, Reed said he would issue his decision at a later date.

His decision Wednesday made it clear he agreed with Adi that Boddy was causing him mental distress, noting that Adi said during the hearing it resulted in his hospitalization.

The magistrate also noted that all three of Adi’s witnesses who testified for him “did so without subpoena” and he mentioned their positions on the school board and as an assistant superintendent.

“During the arguments of counsel, it was stated that granting a protection order on behalf of Isaac Adi as to Darbi Boddy would disenfranchise Boddy’s constituents. The Court however finds that it was, and is, the behavior of Boddy that has disenfranchised her constituents. (Adi) has demonstrated, by a preponderance of the evidence, that (Boddy) knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct that caused, and will continue to cause him mental distress.”


Immediate appeal coming

Boddy’s attorney, Robert Croskery, initially said he planned to appeal the protection order to Judge Howard, who does have the right to review the case and overturn them.

But then the court released the order showing the judge’s signature on it, too, next to the magistrate’s, so now her attorney says he’s going to a higher court.

Otherwise, if the order sticks, it can stay in effect for years including through the end of her four-year term, which expires on Dec. 31, 2026.

“I respectfully but strongly disagree with the magistrate and will be immediately appealing the decision to the Twelfth District Court of Appeals,” Croskery said.

“This end-around by the Board through contrived actions to disenfranchise Darbi Boddy’s supporters by banning her from meetings is wrong under the law, is morally outrageous, and I strongly believe it will be overturned on appeal. In the meanwhile, my client will do her job to the best of her ability, as she was elected to do and as she is required to do.”

School Board Chairwoman O’Connor said: “This is a matter that rests between the courts, Mr. Adi and Mrs. Boddy. This is not within the board’s purview. I think the board is looking forward to focusing on our students.”

FOX19 NOW reached Adi’s attorney for comment.

Robert Lyons, who also is a longtime part-time judge for one of Butler County’s three area courts, said he was just reading the decision and would call us back when he finished.

Once he did, he said both he and Adi were pleased and it would bring relief to his client.

“I think with this order he can proceed with his duties as a school board member, as vice president of the school board, without the concern of Ms. Boddy interfering with his life and his duties. I’m very pleased with the magistrate’s decision. It’s a very thorough decision he rendered. He made it clear what his thoughts were.”

Lyons said he was particularly pleased to see that the court found “it was, and is the behavior of Boddy that has disenfranchised her constituents. (Adi) has demonstrated, by a preponderance of the evidence, that (Boddy) knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct that caused, and will continue to cause him mental distress.”

“I appreciate,” he said, “the magistrate’s order recognizing the outlandish behavior of Ms. Boddy.”

His petition asked to court to order Boddy not to:

“...abuse (Adi) “by harming, attempting to harm, threatening, following, stalking, harassing or contacting” him

“...enter (his) residence, school, business, place of employment, child care providers or daycare centers....including the buildings, grounds and parking lots at those locations.”

Adi’s petition originally asked the court to remove her right to “...possess, use, carry or obtain any deadly weapon, firearms, and ammunition.”

Adi wrote as part of his court filing: “I am also concerned about Ms. Boddy, as she has indicated on several occasions that she carries a gun. While I am a strong believer and supporter of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and I do have a concealed carry permit, I feel even more uncomfortable with Ms. Boddy’s aggression when it is my belief that she is carrying a firearm.”

On the stand Friday, however, Adi said he was not trying to take away her gun rights so the order does not.

‘Harassing confrontations’

In a page-long supplement to his court filing, Adi lists three main reasons why he should be granted a civil stalking protection order against Boddy:

  • “Confrontational” phone calls followed by apology text messages from November 2021 to January 2022.
  • She “was abusive towards me” in “harassing confrontations” three separate times in front of groups of people during a conservative leadership conference they both attended in Florida in April. Another educator who attended wrote an email to Adi documenting that she saw some of this and was so disturbed by it she recorded the tail end of one of the incidents.
  • Boddy ”aggressively got into my face” as he left a June 13 executive board meeting and “demanded that I answer her questions while she was recording the incident.” She posted about it on Facebook and contacted the media.

Still, Adi didn’t file for the protection order until just over two months later, on Aug. 16.

His attorney tells FOX19 NOW Adi was out of the country in Africa over part of the summer otherwise he would have filed it in July, when he was so stressed out by it he was hospitalized.

The June 13 encounter between Adi and Boddy resulted in Boddy filing an assault report against him four days later, on June 17, with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office presented the case to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office, who determined “it didn’t meet the elements of assault, so we closed it out,” Lt. Joe Fuller said.

In her complaint to the sheriff’s office, Boddy alleged Adi told her “Your brain is empty” during the executive session so she took out her phone and started recording as they walked out of the building between 9:16 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

She tried to get him to say it again on camera but he said he didn’t tell her that and kept walking, according to a video she posted on Facebook on June 22.

Adi asked her: “You are videoing me?” and appeared to swat Boddy’s phone away, asking: “Why are you videoing me?”

She kept her phone from falling to the ground by catching it with her other hand and continued filming, her lawyer says.

In the video, she accused him then of assaulting her.

“Don’t assault me. You just − you’re assaulting me. You just assaulted me on camera,” she told Adi on the video.

He asked her again why she was recording him.

“Because you speak very badly to me,” she responded, according to the video.

They kept walking and he again denied saying her brain was empty.

“So now you’re lying?” Boddy asked, according to the video. “Because you know you’re being caught doing something you’re not supposed−”

The video cuts off at that point.

When she posted the video to Facebook, she wrote: “At least twice now Isaac Adi has assaulted someone for merely attempting to record what he is saying to them. I’m posting this because I think it’s important to expose abusive people like this contemporaneously when possible.”

Boddy testified Friday that she didn’t mean any ill will against Adi.

She said she was just calling him out at the leadership conference for not being conservative when she felt he should be conservative, for not voting conservative and for supporting the former superintendent. She confirmed on the stand what she said previously about Adi and offered to read it again.

Her attorney also showed a video in court Friday of Adi getting angry with parents. At the end of it, he smacked a cell phone as he was being videotaped by one of them as well.

Adi then testified about two additional incidents that he believed enabled him the right for court-ordered protection:

  • Stress over social media posts, most made by Boddy, about the June 13 incident became so bad in July he was taken to the hospital because his body was “shutting down.” He said he was in the hospital for three days and two nights and submitted a medical bill to the court as evidence.
  • Two days after Adi requested the protection order, Boddy confronted Adi at a board committee meeting by asking why he left the room, recording and challenging him. He told her ‘I don’t answer to you.’

That Aug. 18 incident is mainly what the assistant superintendent, O’Connor and Shaffer testified about Friday morning.

After Boddy confronted Adi, he told O’Connor he could not sit through the rest of the meeting, she said.

“He stood up and came over to me as the chair of the meeting and said ‘I need to leave,’” O’Connor testified. “I walked out with Isaac and he said ‘I”m going to the hospital.’”

Controversy after controversy

Boddy has been the subject of many controversies since she joined the school board in January 2022.

She was elected after campaigning on a platform opposing Critical Race Theory, which Lakota officials have repeatedly said is not in the schools. Boddy also is a staunch believer in and insists on parents’ rights.

While Boddy clearly has supporters, a recall effort has been underway to try to remove her from the school board for more than a year.

In the spring of 2022, she was censured by the school board after accidentally posting a link to a pornographic website while advocating for abstinence. She said it was an accident.

They also asked her to resign.

She refused and walked out of the meeting.

Then a school resource officer served Boddy with a letter notifying her that she was trespassing when she showed up, unannounced, at two schools in Liberty Township: Lakota East High School and Liberty Early Childhood School.

The letters warned her if she did it again, she would be formally charged.

She took several photos inside the schools while she was there, from civil rights timeline projects of students to messages that all are accepted in the building or classroom, FOX19 NOW has confirmed.

Some of the photos also show projects that appear to have a rainbow-colored theme.

Boddy claimed in a Facebook post that she did not sneak into the schools and the visits were not a secret.

More recently, Lakota’s former superintendent, Matt Miller, quit and blamed Boddy for being on a “crusade” that “destroyed my career.”

Boddy told FOX19 NOW in an interview at the time she felt Miller was not fit to be the superintendent. Allegations that originated from his ex-wife were investigated by the sheriff’s office last year.

Miller told a sheriff’s detective during an interview that he and his ex-wife engaged in consensual sexual encounters while they were married with other consenting adults, not minors, according to the investigative report and a copy of his interview transcript.

The report also states Miller said he and his ex-wife would “role play” and engage in “pillow talk” and, on one occasion, that included a discussion of “drugging, molesting and recording three juveniles but that was during a role-play/pillow talk session.”

The sheriff’s office announced a year ago this month they were closing that case as well after consulting prosecutors with no charges being filed.

Most of the school board publicly supported Miller during the investigation and a separate one the district paid for that also determined no laws were broken.

Still, Miller left early this year, writing in his January resignation letter to the school board that Boddy created “a nightmare” for him and his family, told “outright lies about him” and the rest of the board did not protect him from “her harassment which continues to this day.”

“Her crusade to force me to resign is direct retaliation for my efforts to protect Lakota students of all genders and races from her destructive efforts.”

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