The former Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office captain charged with misdemeanor assault for pepper-spraying an inmate in a restraint chair had her trial pushed back until May 29.
A previously unscheduled hearing in Dayton Municipal Court was held Feb. 12 in which Judith Sealey’s trial was continued from March 22.
Sealey, a sergeant in November 2015, is accused of pepper spraying Montgomery County Jail inmate Amber Swink, who was strapped in seven-point harness and who had already been sprayed once before that. The county settled a federal lawsuit with Swink and her attorney for $375,000.
Also, Judge Christopher Roberts recused himself from hearing the case which will prompt the appointing of a visiting judge. No visiting judge has been named, according to the docket.
Roberts wrote that he “maintains professional relationships with jail command staff and other deputies of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office,” according to court documents. “Due to the potential for conflict or claims of bias resulting from these relationships, recusal is necessary.”
Sealey did not appear in court in a December hearing, but defense attorney Anthony VanNoy and Cincinnati Prosecutor’s Office assistant Natalia Harris met with Roberts before that pretrial hearing.
The case is being handled by the Cincinnati Prosecutor’s Office because Dayton City Prosecutor Stephanie Cook — a member of a Montgomery County Jail oversight committee — said it would be seen as a potential conflict of interest for her office to try the case.
Sealey, who took medical disability retirement, has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
VanNoy did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Harris has said she would not comment about an open case.
A Montgomery County grand jury in 2017 declined to indict Sealey on felony charges and findings of a federal probe into this incident and other jail issues have not been announced.
Video of the pepper-spraying came to light months after the incident when Swink’s attorney, Douglas Brannon, posted it on his website.
The video spurred the lawsuit, the ongoing federal probe, the misdemeanor criminal charge against Sealey, and contributed to calls for oversight of jail operations.
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