Sheriff says he will arrest Lakota Schools board member Darbi Boddy if she violates protection order

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Lakota School Board member Darbi Boddy has been ordered to stay 500 feet away and have no contact with fellow board member Isaac Adi, after a judge found she has caused him mental distress.

Sheriff Richard Jones issued a joint press release with Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser on Thursday afternoon after Boddy was served a civil protection order requested by Adi.

“There will be no preferred treatment no matter your elected position,” they wrote. “If you violate a civil protection order, you will be arrested on-site.”

Adi filed for the order against Boddy, alleging on several occasions she harassed him and caused him such mental distress he had to be hospitalized. Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Greg Howard approved the order penned by Magistrate Matthew Reed on Wednesday.

He wrote that, because Adi didn’t side with her on certain issues, Boddy “took every opportunity to exert pressure, bully, and, at times, punish petitioner by embarrassing him in front of others.”

“The court finds that petitioner has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the actions of respondent have caused him mental distress,” Reed wrote. “And if left unchecked will continue to cause petitioner mental distress.”

He ordered her to stay 500 feet away — which is basically equivalent to 15 school buses — from Adi, which calls into question how the two can continue to serve on the Lakota Local Schools Board of Education together.

Lakota Schools spokeswoman Betsy Fuller told the Journal-News, “The only comment we can make at this time is that we will review the order and make adjustments as needed.”

Gmoser issued an opinion Thursday that states since Boddy and Adi are both school board members, and she isn’t allowed near him, she will be arrested if she attempts to attend a school board meeting if Adi is there.

“Such membership is not an exception to the order prohibiting respondent from entering the petitioner’s place of employment (a school board meeting),” Gmoser wrote. “Consequently, entering such place of the petitioner’s employment will subject respondent to arrest for a violation of the order.”

Boddy’s attorney Robert Croskery told the Journal-News he has filed a notice of appeal with the 12th District Court of Appeals, “we’ll be fighting this extremely hard and extremely fast.”

“We strongly disagree with the magistrate’s decision, believe it is contrary to law,” he said. “We believe it disenfranchises her constituents who voted for her. That it was clearly intended for that purpose.”

He also noted there is no evidence Boddy “harmed” Adi since the two have attended three board meetings where “there’s been discussion, there’ve been votes, in other words they’ve been doing their duty without incident.”

Adi’s attorney Rob Lyons told the Journal-News the magistrste did an excellent job summing up the situation and reaching his conclusion that a protective order is warranted. He especially liked Reed’s take on the “disenfranchisement argument.”

“The court however finds that it was and is, the behavior of Boddy that has disenfranchised her constituents,” Reed wrote.

The bulk of Adi’s petition for protection centers around a training conference both of them attended in Florida in April.

“At all three attacks on me during the conference, Ms. Boddy was loud, rude, and made numerous false statements about me. Most concerning was her falsely accusing me, in front of the group, of supporting and protecting a pedophile,” Adi wrote in his petition.

He was apparently referring to controversy regarding former Lakota superintendent Matt Miller. Accusations of wrongdoing against Miller were unfounded.

The magistrate mentioned a number of nasty incidents involving Boddy and Adi and mentioned testimony from other Lakota officials during a hearing. He said after one incident in August, Adi’s “demeanor had changed from being his jovial self to being in tears and shaking.”

“In addition to the distress exhibited at the times of some specific incidents, testimony was provided that the other individuals on the board had an agreement that petitioner was never to be left alone with respondent,” he wrote.

“The witnesses testified that respondent’s presence at meetings caused some concern for the safety of all individuals in attendance and school resource officers were specifically stationed during meetings as a result of the concern.”

He noted Adi testified the stress of interacting with Boddy caused him to spend three days in the hospital in July.

Croskery told the Journal-News that testimony was odd, in his opinion.

“To argue that what happened in April or in the one time they saw each other on June 13 suddenly created an incident for him in July seems something of a stretch to me,” he said. “Which we will discuss with the court of appeals.”

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