Retherford says bill will prevent ‘re-victimizing’ of crime victims

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 11:32 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 4:47 PM

            Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, introduced on Wednesday a bill that would prohibit the release of sexually oriented photos, videos and materials through a public records request. “In theory, you could be re-victimizing the victim again … That’s why it’s important,” Retherford said. STAFF FILE PHOTO
Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, introduced on Wednesday a bill that would prohibit the release of sexually oriented photos, videos and materials through a public records request. “In theory, you could be re-victimizing the victim again … That’s why it’s important,” Retherford said. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, has introduced a bill that would prevent photos, videos and images of a victim of a sexually oriented crime from being accessed via a public records request.

The bill, called the Victim’s Protection and Privacy Act, was prompted after a conversation Retherford said he had with a Hamilton police detective.

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Retherford, in an exclusive interview with the Journal-News, said this type of police evidence was protected through a court case — including the appeals process — until a December 2016 Ohio Supreme Court ruling.

In a split decision, the justices ruled in Caster vs. Columbus that these pieces of investigative evidence could be released once the initial court case was concluded.

Donald Caster, an attorney engaged by the Ohio Innocence Project, requested police records related to the 2007 murder conviction of Adam Saleh. The Columbus Division of Police rejected the request, indicating any records would be released at the completion of Saleh’s case, even though all appeals had been exhausted.

The majority of the Ohio Supreme Court justices determined Caster “had a clear legal right” to the requested records.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said the legislation is a “no-brainer” in protecting victims from having to re-live a traumatic experience. He said the detective reached out to Retherford after the department reviewed case law.

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“We take our role in protecting victims very seriously, and we want to make sure no victim is re-victimized by loopholes,” Bucheit said. “We’re all working here for the common good for the people, and we all see the problem. It’s a matter of recognizing a potential problem and the opportunity for someone to be re-victimized.”

Admitting the likelihood is low, Retherford said there would be nothing to prevent an accomplice or a perpetrator of a crime from filing a public records request to receive copies of “compromising or embarrassing photos and videos.”

“In theory, you could be re-victimizing the victim again,” said Retherford. “It’s still a possibility. That’s why it’s important.”

Dennis Hetzel, president and executive director of the Ohio News Media Association, said the legislation is “obviously is well-intentioned,” but said “it’s unnecessary and adds yet another exception to the ever-growing list of exemptions to our open records law.”

“Ohio already recognizes a constitutional right to privacy, and there are no examples to our knowledge of such images being released,” he said. “We also are concerned that the language lacks specificity and could lead to the withholding of additional public records.”

Retherford contends that “instead of being reactive to a scenario that could happen, let’s be proactive.”

Bucheit said they would fight any request for images or videos of a victim in a sexually compromising situation, but asked, “Why take that chance? Why fight it in court and hope you’re going to win as opposed to shutting down an absurd loophole in the law.”

Retherford said 66 legislators that have signed on to his bill, which is likely to get its first committee hearing after the first of the year.

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3.6 magnitude earthquake rattles Detroit and parts of Canada

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 10:13 PM

A map of the Detroit area shows where an earthquake struck Thursday night.
U.S. Geological Survey
A map of the Detroit area shows where an earthquake struck Thursday night.(U.S. Geological Survey)

A 3.6 magnitude earthquake rattled Detroit and parts of Canada onThursday evening, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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The quake struck around 8 p.m., the US.GS reported, and was centered in Amherstburg, Canada, directly across the Detroit River south of the city.

“They happen from time to time, right in that magnitude" in southeast Michigan, David Gurney, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in White Lake, told the Detroit Free Press. "They are rare, but not unheard of."

There were no reports of damage or injuries.

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The earthquake was the strongest tremor to strike the region since 2015, when a 4.2 magnitude quake struck near Kalamazoo.

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Rezoning means what’s left of Skyborn Drive-In, Skateland will disappear

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 10:10 PM

The Bath Twp. board of trustees voted unanimously Thursday night in favor of a zoning change that means what’s left of the iconic Skyborn Drive-In and Skateland will be razed.

The properties are on Haddix Road in the township, north of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the land will become the home to a construction company. 

"It's going to be sad to see them go," Dan Kirkpatrick, Fairborn Area Historical Society vice president, told WHIO-TV's James Buechele. 

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"It's been a place for families to go to watch a movie," he said. "It's been a place for kids to go skating." 

This is what's left of the Skyborn Drive-In in Bath Twp., Greene County. (Courtesy/James Buechele)

Kirkpatrick said the historical society is working with the construction company, Barrett Paving, to use the property as a quarry. Both sides also will be exploring the area for any historical artifacts to save. 

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Officials with the paving company said they are willing to possibly save the drive-in sign. 

Kirkpatrick said he's not sure where the sign would go. 

"Who knows? We might be able to find some future use for it," he said.

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Trotwood board votes to not renew teacher’s contract after unsanctioned field trip

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 5:26 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 7:25 PM

VIDEO: Khaliah Forte speaks out at meeting, contract not renewed

UPDATED @ 8:40 p.m. (April 19)

Trotwood-Madison school board members voted to not renew the contract of a high school teacher who took 50 students on an unsanctioned field trip last month to a college campus.

More than 100 people showed up in support of Khaliah Forte, who addressed the board to defend her actions and to dispute that administrators said she wasn’t a fit in the building.

“I live in Trotwood. I go to church in Trotwood. I’m a part of this community, my kids attend Trotwood City Schools. we are this community. We participate in all we can in this district. I go to football games, basketball games, all sporting competitions’ signing days, inductions, every school board meeting and city council meeting,” Forte said. “When I walk into the building at 7:30 in the morning and I lay eyes on those kids, they all become my kids.”

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Board President Denise Moore said she couldn’t say anything specific about the nonrenewal because it was a personnel matter.

“It’s not about people, it’s not about positions, it’s not about personalities and it’s not about politics —  it’s about policy,” she said.

Trotwood teacher finds job in jeopardy after unapproved field trip

Moore said she wasn’t surprised so many parents, students and community members turned out in support of Forte.

“I think people came out because they care, people came out because they are engaged in the Trotwood-Madison City School District.”

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Parent Kalisha Smith, who said she helped to organize the trip, said there were no complaints from hotels or bus company used by the students. She said Forte provided an educational opportunity that has changed her youngest daughter for the better.

“No teacher deserves this trying to make something better for the students on her own personal time,” she said.

UPDATED @2:25 p.m. (April 19)

Trotwood-Madison school board officials on Thursday afternoon canceled their 5:30 p.m. special meeting, which had been scheduled “to investigate complaints against a public official.” 

The district’s regular school board meeting, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., will still take place.


Trotwood High School teacher Khalilah Forte is facing a possible termination for taking 50 students on a college visit in March that was not approved by the school.

The Trotwood City Schools board has called a special meeting to begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the district administrative offices, 3594 N. Snyder Road. The board will immediately go into executive session. 

According to documents from last week’s meeting, the board plans a vote Thursday on whether to non-renew Forte’s teaching contract, effective May 24, the day after students’ last day of school. 

This news organization has requested Forte’s personnel file, to examine any disciplinary documents related to the case.

Community leaders and parents say Forte was trying to help students who might not have a chance to experience a college visit. They also said parent and local organizations raised the money for the trip. 

Board member Norman Scearce said the trip was not taken on school time and the board will be voting Thursday on whether to terminate Forte. 

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The Rev. James Washington, pastor of Phillips Temple Church, said he knows Forte personally and that “She loves children, she loves the instruction of children and she loves what she does.” 

Washington also said Forte was just trying to help the children. 

According to the letter, which also was posted to social media, a Trotwood principal warned Forte she could lose her job if she took students on the unsanctioned trip.

Neither school district officials nor Principal David White would comment on the situation. Forte also said she was unable to comment. 

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Boston, D.C. top contenders for Amazon's second headquarters, report says 

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:31 PM

It was formerly called Cadabra, Inc. The company has half a million employees. Its revenue exceeds $135 billion. Amazon's current logo depicts a smile that goes from A to Z. Its warehouses have more square footage than 700 Madison Square Gardens.

A new report says Boston is one of the top two finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters.

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Twenty cities have been competing to become the location for the company’s second headquarters, and one study predicts two cities are better suited than the rest – and Boston is one of them.

The new study was conducted by an organization called The Conference Board.

It believes Washington, D.C., and Boston are most likely to beat out the competition.

The company analyzed the 20 cities vying to land HQ2.

The group studied the four job types most common in Amazon’s existing headquarters in Seattle, then looked at “real-time labor demand” and “online job vacancies” in all 20 cities vying for the headquarters.

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It found Boston and Washington, D.C. were most compatible.

Something else that was in the report but needs to be considered – Amazon already likes Boston.

The company is seeking up to 1 million square feet of office space in the Seaport. Amazon could hire up to 4,000 workers for two future offices separate from the second headquarters.

Landing HQ2 could mean 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment in the city, but that doesn’t appear to have people in Boston too excited.

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According to a recent poll by Elon University, only 34 percent of Bostonians strongly support the bid for the new headquarters. That’s the lowest among the finalist cities.

Amazon expects to make a decision sometime this year.

An Amazon sign in Seattle outside the company’s grocery store in Seattle.(David Ryder/Getty Images)

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