Two new developments in legal battle over Lakota school board stalking order

Lakota School Board Member Darbi Boddy
Lakota School Board Member Darbi Boddy(Provided by Darbi Boddy)
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 7:11 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2023 at 11:44 AM EST
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LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - There are new developments in the ongoing legal battle between two Lakota School Board members and a stalking civil protection order.

Lakota School Board Member Darbi Boddy is under an order issued nearly two months ago by Butler County Common Pleas Court to stay 500 feet away from her colleague, Isaac Adi, at all times until Sept. 20, 2025, which is most of the rest of her school board term.

On Monday, Ohio’s Twelfth District Court of Appeals dismissed her appeal to overturn it.

The proper procedure is to go through the lower court appeal process first and then, if it’s denied, proceed to the higher court, not to pursue an appeal first and only in the higher court, the three-judge panel wrote in their decision.

“Boddy failed to timely object to the magistrate’s report before filing her notice of appeal. Accordingly, she cannot challenge the final court’s order on appeal and this case is hereby dismissed,” they wrote, ordering her to pay both her court costs and Adi’s.

Last month, the administrative judge at the same appeals court denied Boddy’s request for an emergency stay to attend school board meetings while she appealed the stalking order for the same reason. Her attorney then sought and received a stay pending the appeal in the lower court with f strict requirements.

Also on Monday, Adi’s lawyer alleged in a new court filing that Boddy has violated a condition of the stalking order.

Attorney Robert Lyons is seeking contempt of court against her and requested a hearing in Butler County Common Pleas Court, according to a copy of his motion.

Adi “is attending a conference in Columbus, Ohio,” reads a copy of the motion. Boddy “is also attending the conference in Columbus, Ohio, and has violated the terms of the protection order by coming into contact with (within 500 feet) of ....Adi, while at the conference.”

FOX19 NOW requested comment Tuesday from Adi’s attorney as well as Boddy’s.

Lyons, who also is a part-time judge in Butler County Area 1 Court, responded that he was in a jury trial We will update this story if we hear back from him later in the day.

Boddy’s lawyer, Robert Croskery, said Tuesday morning their fight to get the order thrown out will continue now in the lower court.

He said the emergency stay that allows her to attend school board meetings while she appeals the order is not impacted by this new higher court decision. She can still attend school board meetings while they continue trying to get the order tossed out, he added.

“The Court of Appeals ruling effectively returns jurisdiction to the trial court, where we are filing today a Motion to Terminate the Civil Protective Order raising the same specific objections we have raised throughout this process,” he said. “We remain confident that this Civil Protective Order will be terminated as improperly granted.”

Regarding the contempt allegation, Croskery said it was his understanding that both school board members are at a taxpayer-funded meeting in Columbus to train school board members.

Adi’s lawyer filing the contempt motion shows the reason why this CPO is wildly flawed, he said, adding that he will include this in his motion to terminate the civil protection order.

Read all the latest court records here:

Appeals Court Dismissal Entry

Darbi Boddy’s Motion to Terminate Civil Protective Order

Isaac Adi’s Motion For Contempt

Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Greg Howard and Magistrate Matthew Reed’s names are both stamped on the Sept. 20 civil stalking protection order that Reed wrote after he presided over a four-hour hearing the week prior.

Reed made it clear in his decision he believed Boddy was a problem and the order was needed to protect Adi:

“During the arguments of counsel,” the magistrate wrote, “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.

Boddy’s lawyer has argued that Ohio’s stalking law is being used as a “sword” against Boddy to quiet her conservative voice and said she will “continue to place the needs of parents and children above those of special interests.”

If Boddy violates the court order, she will be arrested “on site”, the county prosecutor and sheriff declared in a joint statement in September.

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

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).

Boddy was elected in the fall of 2021 and began serving in January 2022. School board members in Ohio serve four-year terms.

Under current state law, public officials must be physically present at meetings to vote and be counted as part of a quorum.

School board members who miss meetings for 90 days and “each absence is found to be for reasons declared insufficient” by a two-thirds vote of the remaining board, can be removed and someone else could be appointed, according to Ohio Revised Code 3313.11 “Vacancy in board.”

Adi and Boddy campaigned together in 2021 but he claimed in court records filed in August 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.”

In his stalking order petition, he cited a series of events he said were harassing and impacted his health.

Adi testified in a Sept. 15 hearing that his distress over all of this resulted in his hospitalization in July after Boddy followed him out of an executive session in June, filming and confronting him, and he swatted her hand down to stop her from filming him, a court transcript shows.

She posted the video on Facebook and called him out, which he claimed added to his stress.

Boddy took the stand and gave sworn testimony about that encounter, the transcript states.

“I was leaving,” she testified. “And -- and I can just go ahead and go through it right now, actually. I was leaving and I heard him following behind me. And so I turned around because, while we were in there, he said your brain is empty and was very verbally aggressive and attacking me. And so this has happened multiple times, and so I wanted to catch it on -- on video because I was tired of the way that he talked to me.”

Boddy accused him of assault. The Butler County Sheriff’s Office investigated and then 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 told FOX19 NOW earlier this year.

Adi testified in September that he was “rushed to the hospital and they took -- did every test. My blood pressure shot up. My system -- everything in my body was almost shutting down. And I was in the hospital for three days -- two nights and three days.”

His attorney has said Adi didn’t seek the restraining order until nearly two months after that June incident or even in July after his hospitalization because Adi was out of the country a great deal of the time.

At that September hearing, School Board President Lynda O’Connor, Board Member Shaffer and Assistant Superintendent Stacy Maney all took the stand for Adi and gave sworn testimony without being forced to via subpoena.

Last week’s election, however, was a bit of a shake-up on the school board of the second-largest district in Greater Cincinnati.

The board has been embroiled in other controversies since 2020 and the district recently received its worst state report card scores in years.

Voters re-elected Shaffer, a longtime incumbent who is the only current board member with children in Lakota schools. She was the top vote-getter.

Board President O’Connor lost her first school board election in 15 years.

Voters chose to elect another candidate who currently has students in the district, Douglas Horton, who ran but lost in 2021 and has been a critic of Boddy.

Both Shaffer and Horton were endorsed in a letter signed by 10 past Lakota school board members that states:

“The current discord and lack of civility at Lakota School Board meetings is a serious problem. It threatens to undermine the school district we all worked hard to rebuild. Negative local news coverage is diminishing our community’s reputation, our property values, and the futures of our students.

“We cannot stand by and allow the Board’s petty bickering over unsubstantiated problems to continue unchecked. The Board’s focus needs to be on providing the students of Lakota with the best possible, well-rounded cost-effective education. Our community and its students expect and deserve this.

“Lakota needs strong and stable leaders NOW who can focus on the effectiveness of running our schools. School Board races have always been non-partisan; recent involvement of local political parties has led to members with no strong ties to this community and chaos on the current Board. Our community worked hard to build a quality local school district, and we do not want to lose it.”

PROTECTION ORDER:

ISAAC ADI’S PROTECTION ORDER PETITION:

TRANSCRIPT OF SEPT. 15 PROTECTION ORDER HEARING:

DECISION GRANTING PROTECTION ORDER:

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