A judge had to tell Lou Ann Bennett and Dan Brown not to snipe at each other anymore.
Not on social media, not in person, not in any way whatsoever.
The hearing was to impose sentence on Brown for a previous case of contempt of court in this ongoing battle.
Belmont County Common Pleas Court John Vavra gave Brown 10 days in jail, then suspended all 10, saying he can either donate $500 to the Belmont County Salvation Army or do 50 hours of community service there.
Then the judge told the combatants to knock it off.
“This has got to stop,” ordered Judge Vavra. “This is childish. It is just simply childish. And it has to stop. If it takes this court’s intervention to do so, then that’s the way the legal system works. We have a binding, unappealable court order in place that both of you agreed to.”
Brown, who admitted to the contempt charge, said he’s fine with the sentence.
“I’m not sure which way I’m going to go with the Salvation Army–the donation or the community service,” he noted. “My life is very busy. I’m going to college and I run two different businesses in Bellaire and I’m assuming a council seat. I do a lot of community service as it is, so I might just automatically fall into that option, But I think even if I do the community service, I’m still going to make the $500 donation because I think that’s fair. I believe it was the right ruling.”
Brown, a write-in candidate, beat Bennett by a handful of votes in a council race in the November general election.
Bennett repeatedly stood up during the sentencing hearing, insisting that Brown is still harassing her, spreading rumors and lies.
The judge told her repeatedly that this hearing was only for the purpose of imposing sentence for the former contempt charge.
She asked if she would have to pursue additional charges for incidents that have reportedly happened since then, and the judge replied, “That’s how it works.”
Neither Bennett nor Brown brought a lawyer with them, choosing to represent themselves.
The judge told Brown there are plenty of options if he chooses community service, including ringing bells at the Salvation Army’s Christmas kettles or working in the food pantry.