The Republican candidate accusing State Rep. Rick Perales of misconduct sent a letter to Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger on Friday criticizing him for not contacting her and adding “fondling” to her list of allegations against Perales.
Rosenberger responded to Jocelyn Smith in a letter Tuesday, saying she should contact law enforcement about any allegations involving physical abuse.
A separate allegation from Smith that Perales refused to sponsor a piece of legislation because she would not have sex with him could constitute a violation of House rules, Rosenberger wrote, but he said Smith needs to provide evidence to back up the claim.
Perales, R-Beavercreek, has denied that allegation, as well as many other claims made by Smith. He does admit having a brief, consensual sexting relationship with her that he says ended three years ago.
Smith of Fairborn is challenging Perales in the May 8 primary for the Ohio House 73rd seat, which includes much of western Greene County. She has accused Perales of choking and kissing her in January 2015 and then sending her sexually oriented texts.
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In her letter to Rosenberger, Smith added a new allegation, accusing Perales of “fondling” her. Perales has denied kissing or choking Smith and says no intimate touching occurred. He says he never sent nude photographs of himself but that Smith sent him topless photos of herself, which she denies.
“She’s a liar,” Perales has said. “Certainly her relationship (with me) was strategic. She planned it all out. I’d say there’s a track record out there of her doing similar things, so it’s not a one-time thing.”
Ralph Wunder, Smith’s campaign consultant, said in an email Tuesday that the fondling allegation is not new.
“Whether it’s called fondling, groping, accosting, grabbing, inappropriate touching, etc. etc…is just a choice of verbs,” Wunder wrote. “Jocelyn has told me from day one there was also groping/fondling involved.”
In a March 23 interview with this newspaper, however, Smith made no mention of fondling by Perales. Smith said in that interview that she had continued texting, talking and visiting with Perales after the alleged choking incident because she wanted to accomplish some political objectives.
Perales notified Rosenberger in 2016 that he and Smith had exchanged inappropriate text messages during the first couple of months of 2015, the speaker’s office confirmed last week. At the time, Rosenberger viewed it as a personal matter that did not violate House rules, his office said.
After learning from a March 27 Dayton Daily News story of Smith’s allegation that Perales had choked and kissed her, Rosenberger decided to open an inquiry.
In his letter to Smith on Tuesday, Rosenberger urged Smith to report any allegations of physical abuse to law enforcement, adding, “if they are true.”
“I look forward to reviewing the findings of their investigation. After this review, I will determine if any further steps are needed,” Rosenberger wrote.
Rosenberger did say a violation of House rules could have occurred if Perales — as Smith alleges — refused to sponsor a specialty plate license bill benefiting pancreatic cancer because she would not have sex with him.
“If true, this does fall under the purview of the Ohio House of Representatives and would call into question both ethical and legal concerns,” Rosenberger wrote.
Perales said Smith never asked him to sponsor the bill and he denied her allegation. Perales did co-sponsor the House version of a Senate bill that included the plate and was approved in 2016.
Smith has called for Perales to resign the seat he has held for three terms and drop out of the race, which would likely make Smith the Republican nominee since she is the only other candidate in the race. The winner will face Democrat Kim McCarthy of Sugarcreek Twp. in the Nov. 6 General Election.
In her letter to Rosenberger on Friday, Smith said she “very graciously offered to withhold the release of the worst of his texts to spare his family and friends the embarrassment of the revelations.” But, the letter continues, if Perales doesn’t resign “he leaves me with no choice but to gradually begin releasing the documentation, and the chips will have to fall where they will.”
Smith’s credibility has been questioned by her former consultant, Michael Talev of Cleveland, who said she told him last year that she had had a non-violent, consensual sexting affair with Perales. Talev said he resigned from her campaign after Smith said she wanted to send sexually explicit texts she says came from Perales to his wife, children and grandchildren.
Smith denies Talev’s allegations and said she fired him for non-performance.
Smith has also been accused of previously sending unwanted topless photographs of herself to men and of harassing other men. An allegation that Smith showed topless photos to three co-workers was one of the reasons she was fired in 2008 by the Clark County Sheriff. Smith said most allegations made in her firing were untrue. She lost her lawsuit and appeal challenging her firing, according to Clark County court records.
Several high school sports referees also received unwanted nude photos from Smith, according to Teri Hobbs, a high school basketball referee who previously worked with Smith before Smith was suspended from officiating basketball by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Wunder dismissed Hobbs’ remarks as a “Leftist tactic designed to stifle honest discussion.”
OSHAA spokesman Tim Stried said the association had received complaints about Smith, and complaints from her, but he would not reveal the nature of those complaints.
A 2009 a temporary civil protection order was issued 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.
The temporary order was dismissed after a hearing 17 days later in which the magistrate cautioned Smith against escalating her behavior.
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. The case was dismissed after she completed the program and in September she had the case expunged, court records show.
In March 2015 Smith obtained a temporary civil protection order against the man in that case and it was dismissed six weeks later at her request, according to Greene County court records.
The political fallout of the allegations against Perales may not be clear until the May 8 election.
“Right now the voters cannot sort the situation out: Is it an affair that went wrong? Or is it an assault? Or is it both,” said Doris Adams, chairwoman of the Greene County Democratic Party. “In any case, it shows that neither of the Republican candidates are fit to represent the people of the 73rd district.”
John Caupp, executive chairman of the Greene County Republican Party, said he doesn’t believe anything illegal transpired between Smith and Perales.
“I believe some bad judgment probably took place among the couple candidates we have running for office,” Caupp said in reference to Smith and Perales. “Due process will happen May 8 at the ballot box.”