Former Republican statehouse candidate Jocelyn Smith, 36, of Fairborn, indicted on felony and misdemeanor counts related to alleged threats she made during her campaign against State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, during this year’s GOP primary made her first appearance in court Friday.
Smith entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of extortion and coercion. She was released on her own recognizance.
Smith faces a third-degree felony count of extortion and a second-degree misdemeanor count of coercion, according to court records of the secret indictment filed June 15. Smith is a registered nurse case manager at Sheakley Unicomp and a teacher at Fortis College.
Greene County Prosecutor Stephen K. Haller referred the case to a special prosecutor, Madison County Prosecutor Stephen J. Pronai, to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.
“The indictment against my client, Jocelyn Smith, is a politically motivated witch hunt by the Greene County ‘good-old-boys’ network and a prosecutorial abuse of discretion and power that will be vigorously defended against,” said Smith’s attorney, Ben Swift, in an email last month. “We look forward to our day in court when all of the true facts will come out.”
Perales, a former Greene County commissioner and Beavercreek councilman, said he just wants to focus on serving his western Greene County 73rd District, which he has represented since 2013.
“There are no winners in this situation. Justice just needs to take its course,” Perales said. “People have to be held accountable for their words and deeds. I remain focused on winning in November.”
On May 8 Perales defeated Smith 80 percent to 20 percent after bitter primary campaign. Perales faces Kim McCarthy, a Sugarcreek Twp. Democrat, in the Nov. 6 General Election.
During the campaign, Smith alleged that Perales had choked, forcibly kissed, fondled and sexted with her in 2015.
Perales, who is married, admits sending inappropriate sexually oriented text messages to Smith during a brief consensual relationship in early 2015 but denies that he choked, kissed or touched her in any intimate way. Perales said Smith sent him topless photos of herself but that he did not send any sexually oriented photos to her.
Smith denied sending the pictures and said that because she refused to have sex with him Perales would not sponsor a pancreatic cancer specialty license plate bill she supported. State records show Perales did co-sponsor and vote for a bill establishing the specialty plate.
The indictment stems from a complaint accusing Smith of extortion that Perales filed with Fairborn Police in April after Smith held a March 27 news conference in Fairborn. At the news conference, Smith said that if Perales did not resign from the state legislature and withdraw from the Republican primary, she would release texts and other documentation she said proved her allegations.
“Please don’t force me to release the rest of the text messages and other mountains of evidence,” Smith said at the news conference. “I think you know the honorable thing to do is to step down.”
In a May 2 interview Smith called Perales’ extortion complaint “a bogus charge. Perales is very good at writing these false reports.”
Smith ultimately released some sexually oriented texts to local news media but there was no way to verify that they came from Perales, nor did they contain any proof that he had choked, forcibly kissed or fondled her.
Perales questioned Smith’s credibility, saying her story changed multiple times and pointing to court cases involving her.
In 2014, a Warren County judge placed Smith in a pre-trial diversion program on three counts of telephone harassment of a man, according to court records. She completed the program and the case was dismissed in November 2014.
In September 2017 Smith successfully petitioned the court to expunge the case, according to Warren County court records.
In 2015 she obtained a temporary civil protection order against the man in the telephone harassment case, and that protection order was later dismissed at her request, according to Greene County court records.
In a separate court case, a civil protection order was issued in 2009 against Smith by a Clark County Common Pleas Domestic Relations Court magistrate after a former boyfriend accused her of harassing him after they broke up, Clark County court records show. That temporary order was dismissed 17 days later after a hearing in which a Clark County Common Pleas magistrate warned Smith against escalating her behavior.
In 2008 Smith was fired as a Clark County deputy after being accused of showing photos of her nude breasts to male co-workers, pointing pepper spray at an inmate as a joke and having an inappropriate relationship with a former inmate. Smith denied all the charges except the pepper-spray incident but lost her 2009 lawsuit and 2012 appeal alleging race and gender discrimination, and wrongful termination.
Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Alvanitakis responded to the indictment of Smith by saying, that Democratic Party “candidates are focused on fixing the GOP culture of corruption in Columbus, rather than the unseemly details of their opponents’ private lives. That said, we hope Representative Perales has taken the time over the past few months to reflect on how he should interact with constituents moving forward."