If Kent stays, the distractions will continue | News, Sports, Jobs

Details of the sex crimes allegations against Austintown administrator Steve Kent have now been clarified in a civil lawsuit recently filed by Kent’s alleged victim, who was then a student at Poland Seminary High School, where Kent worked as a resource officer. school. The allegations are disgusting and disturbing.

According to the lawsuit, the victim was 16 and 17 when Kent began communicating with her on social media. This evolved over time to in-person meetings in Kent’s police cruiser while he was on duty as a patrolman. The lawsuit alleges that Kent sent the girl nude photos of himself and convinced her to send him nude photos of herself. They also met in Kent’s personal vehicle in the parking lot of a Boardman business while Kent was off duty, and she noticed Kent had a gun in the vehicle, according to the suit. She felt threatened by the gun and allowed Kent to kiss and grope her, according to the suit. They met several times near businesses outside Poland during the holidays of that year and in the spring, and their sexual activities progressed, the lawsuit states.

The alleged victim sued Kent, the canton of Poland and the local school board in Poland.

Kent, who also faces criminal charges facing three counts of sexual assault and one count of tampering with evidence, was fired in March from his post as a township police officer. and a school resource officer from Poland, citing “immoral conduct and embezzlement”.

In an independent capacity, Kent is also a director of the township of Austintown.

While we understand, at this point, the criminal charges and the civil suit are only allegations, and it has not been proven whether Kent is guilty of these charges, we also know that the situation is becoming increasingly source of division and a distraction for the township of Austintown. trustees in the conduct of the official business of their elective offices.

This week, trustees and the township’s 4th of July committee were at odds when the celebration committee asked Kent not to participate in a stage presentation at the busy holiday event at Austintown Plaza. After that, none of the administrators chose to participate.

A few days later, the trustees omitted the members of the July 4 committee from their usual participation and recognition at the trustees’ meeting this week. Now committee members – including former township administrator Jim Davis – say they believe it stemmed from the speech on the committee’s request that Kent not attend their event.

Now residents are circulating a petition calling for Kent’s resignation.

At Monday’s directors’ meeting, Kent, who is chairman of the board, warned those present before the opening of public speaking that the directors would not allow people to speak during the speaking period. comments only on “official township business”.

We take this as a warning that the administrators would close any comments on the charges or allegations against Kent.

Residents, however, continued to attempt to speak out on the matter, with one resident standing up to tell Kent he should resign or step down due to the ongoing investigation. In the end, the administrators reacted by prematurely entering an executive session to discuss hiring.

Undeniably, Kent is innocent until proven guilty, but undeniably, this case, as expected, becomes a distraction for government operations in Austintown.

Ohio law does not allow fellow directors to terminate the service of an elected director simply because of pending criminal charges. And unlike cities and towns, in which residents can mount recall campaigns against office holders they deem unfit to serve, township governance has no similar mechanism under current law. ‘Ohio. The standards for removing an elected director are undoubtedly very high because the courts recognize the dignity and weight of the people’s vote.

It now appears that the only available solution is for Kent to place the township’s image and standards above his own desires to cling to leadership and power. He can best do so by tendering his resignation. He should do it quickly.

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