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Copyright (c) 2009 Ginny Maziarka. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Local pastor files false complaint against citizen - West Bend

I received a phone call from the West Bend Police Department following a school board meeting telling me that someone had filed a formal complaint against me, stating that I "chased after them" in the parking lot outside of the district offices and made them feel threated in doing so. (I was specifically named in the report.) After a discussion with the police officer, and confirmation of persons in the surveillance video he obtained from last night, we were able to determine that the person in question was a pastor's wife who had ridden with me and mistaken the silver van that the accuser was driving for the one that I was driving, which was silver as well. I saw this woman head towards the accuser's vehicle quickly as it was very cold that night, though she never made it more than half-way across the parking lot and certainly made no threatening gestures, other than holding her coat tightly against herself to keep the wind at bay. I honked my horn to redirect her, and she saw that she had made an error and quickly made her way to my parking spot.

The person who accused me of chasing after her and intimidating/harassing her was a local pastor who spoke out against me personally at that night's meeting. I was quite surprised as she knows who I am and what I look like (as does the individual who was with her), though I have never spoken with her. (This pastor's wife is over 6 inches shorter than myself and was wearing an ankle-length coat. I had on a short brown leather jacket. Interesting.)

This behavior is an appropriate example of how speaking what one believes to be true is punishable by those who feel they are offended by it. What if there had been no surveillance tape? What if this had been a student-to-student action within our schools? How would our harassment policy have protected the accused?

This behavior by a community member is not only shameful, it is obviously an attempt to discredit me in public. I feel I have no choice but to attend all meetings with a witness from this point on for my own protection.

The final reading for this flawed harassment policy is on December 1, 8 p.m., at the District Offices.

(I have a copy of the police report.)


Anonymous said...

I guess it might just be me, but I can't help but notice that WB School District seems to be "ground zero" for complaints that turn out to be bogus - think of the teacher who posted inappropriate comments at Boots & Sabers last fall; the young lady who claimed racial harassment, and now this situation.

I understand that the school district is adopting this policy due to state mandate, but it seems like it will offer up another forum to file bogus complaints. More staff time to utilize to investigate, and "collateral" impact on the persons who have to defend their innocence.

I take it from your post that the WB Police Dept. did a good job of investigating and getting to the truth before it went too far?

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

A couple of things..

1. Yes, the WB Polie did a very QUICK assessment of the situation, obtained the surveillance video immediately, and made a determination within 24 hours. Though they verbally gave me the pastor's name when interviewing me, they would not allow it to be shown on the police report.

2. The school district is not adopting the policy due to state mandate. They are including certain "wordage" because the DPI says they must, but it really is a law that applied to anti-discrimination, not anti-harassment. Furthermore, according to state law, the district has the freedom to write the policy any way they like. That means, if they wanted to include ALL STUDENTS in this policy, they could. This was confirmed by the DPI. They simply choose NOT TO, despite the outcry of a large number of district parents and students.