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CSB, group in meeting dispute

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October 20, 2011
By ADAM FERRISE – reporter ( , Tribune Chronicle |

WARREN – An attorney aiding the relative of a 13-month-old girl who authorities say was raped by two relatives inside the Trumbull County Children Services agency now is helping several people who claim their rights were violated Tuesday by CSB members who made it mandatory they sign their names before entering the open meeting. The agency says the policy is in place to protect the children the agency houses.

Attorney David Engler, who is representing Loretta Banks in her fight against CSB, is expected to file a lawsuit today against the agency claiming they violated Ohio’s Sunshine Laws pertaining to open government meetings.

Engler, who helped a Niles resident file a citizen’s complaint with the Warren police department, said by requiring those who wanted to attend the meeting to sign in, the agency placed illegal restrictions on who can attend.

“It’s intimidating for some people who want to go to the meeting,” Engler said. “That begs the question: What are you going to do with that information? Do a background check? They obviously let sexual offenders in the building as we saw with the Beemer case.”

Engler referred to the criminal case involving Cody Beemer, 22, and Felicia Banks Beemer, 21, of Austin Avenue S.W., Warren. Both have pleaded not guilty on counts of raping the 1-year-old girl while on a supervised visit inside the Children Service’s building at 2282 Reeves Road.

Cody Beemer, who is accused of recording the crime on a cell phone in mid-July, was classified as a sex offender as a juvenile. The couple also faces charges of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor for the videos on the phone. They also are charged with raping an 18-month-old boy and recording it with a cell phone.

The girl has been in the custody of Children Services since the day she was born.

Engler has asked Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate any potential wrongdoing on the agency.

CSB Director Nick Kerosky said it’s been the agency’s policy for at least 20 years to have people attending meetings, whether they are employees or members of the general public, sign in. Tuesday’s meeting was held in the same building that houses the children because they were anticipating a large turnout for the meeting, he said.

Kerosky said a state attorney general’s decision specifically said a government agency can require a sign in sheet at open meetings.

“We put that in place for the safety of our children,” Kerosky said, “especially at this heightened time, it’s even more important to protect our children.”

Kerosky produced a sign-in sheet from September meeting that several of those who were denied access had signed.

“People in the past have walked right in and because getting criticism, you make them sign in, which is clearly illegal,” Engler said. “Just because you violated the law last time, doesn’t mean you can do it again.”

The complaint says 10 people, including Patricia J. Paridon, 415 Maple St., Niles, were denied access to Tuesday’s meeting. Paridon, in a written complaint to Warren police, said when she asked to see the policy, it was never produced.

She said Mark A. Massucci, a CSB special investigator, told her she would be arrested if she persisted in trying to attend the meeting without signing in.

Police said they tried to mediate the situation, telling the group they could get in the meeting if they only signed the sheet. Ohio’s Sunshine Law says law enforcement officers do not have the ability to force a government agency to permit access to an open meeting.

Doers Baptist Church Associate Pastor Tom Razum of Novelty, one of the 10 people, said, “They were trying to have the director come out. Normally, I go in without any problems. CSB just didn’t want to let us come in without signing.”

Razum said he and a few others were there because they wanted to know what is being done about the 13-month-old.

 © Copyright 2011 Tribune Chronicle | All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Written by dawneworswick

October 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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