Report: Tempers flare at BPA meeting; man claims member assaulted him

By Tom Barr and - John Hamilton - News Journal

BLANCHESTER — A Blanchester resident filed a report with the police department last Thursday alleging he had been assaulted by a member of the Board of Public Affairs during their meeting earlier that evening.

“Due to the fact that the witnesses to the alleged event include the Mayor of Blanchester as well as three Village Council members, I have made a formal request to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for their Bureau of Criminal Investigation to interview those witnesses,” stated Police Chief Scott Reinbolt in a news release. “I do not believe it would be proper for our staff to interview elected village officials who have direct influence over the operations of the police department.”

The News Journal obtained a copy of the police report via a public records request Wednesday; the report was received via email Wednesday morning, with the alleged suspect’s name redacted “under the ‘uncharged suspect’ exception to Ohio’s public records statute,” Reinbolt told the News Journal via email.

According to the 5-page police incident report, the complainant, Jim Constable, age 75, told the reporting BPD officer that a “Board of Public Affairs (BPA) Board Member had kicked him … in the BPA Chambers after a meeting and before going into executive session and he wants (suspect’s name redacted) charged for assault.”

At that meeting were potential witnesses including Mayor John Carman, Vice Mayor Cindy Sutton, council members Don Gephart and Reilly Hopkins, and two other attendees, the report states.

The report states that Constable said the suspect called him a name and then walked up to him and kicked him on his right foot, and implied that the suspect “wanted to go outside with him but Jim wasn’t going to fight him.”

After the executive session ended, the reporting officer stated that he spoke with (suspect’s name redacted), who “said Jim Constable ‘was running his mouth’ during the meeting as Jim routinely does in all of the past meetings and upon completion of the finance meeting, the suspect told Jim to leave” and that “(name redacted) said Jim then asked him ‘why are you such an (expletive)?’,” the report stated.

“And Jim got up from where he was sitting and started to aggressively come toward him” and “(name redacted) demonstrated a brisk walk with fists down to his sides” and said that “once Jim got up to him, (name redacted) stood up from his chair and Jim went back to his chair and sat back down” according to the report.

“(Name redacted) said Jim continued calling him an (expletive) and (expletive) … and (name redacted) went over to where Jim was sitting and gently tapped on his foot to grab his attention and told him, ‘Come on’ … as in telling Jim he needed to leave. (Suspect) said after, Jim said he got it all on tape and started ranting” and that “as they were entering executive session, and Jim got up and while walking out continued calling (name redacted ) names,” according to the report.

Later in the report, the officer states, “I asked him (Constable) to step into the police department with me, which he did. “Jim asked if everyone in the meeting lied and said he started it, and I asked Jim if he had a recording of what happened,” the reporting officer wrote.

Later, the officer wrote in the report that Constable told him that “due to his phone running out of memory his phone stopped taping during the meeting before the incident occurred.”

“As this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we will have no further comment on the matter until the investigation is concluded,” Reinbolt told the News Journal.

Mayor John Carman declined to comment when contacted by the News Journal Wednesday morning.

By Tom Barr and

John Hamilton

News Journal