CRIMINAL CASE: Ohio v. Ellison, No. C/07/CRB/33168 (Ohio Muni. Ct., Hamilton County guilty verdict Nov. 16, 2007)
Status: Guilty verdict reversed, 178 Ohio App.3d 734, 900 N.E.2d 228, 2008-Ohio- 5282 (Ohio App., 1 Dist. Oct. 10, 2008).

Ripley C. Ellison and Savannah Gerhard were friends in junior high school until Ellison’s younger brother accused Gerhard of molesting him; an investigation found insufficient evidence to substantiate the claim. In 2007, while Ellison and Gerhard were both in high school, Ellison posted a picture of Gerhard to her publically-accessible MySpace page, with the caption, “Molested a little boy.” Ellison removed the picture after Gerhard complained to school authorities, but the case was referred to prosecutors and Ellison was tried for violating Ohio’s criminal telephone harassment statute (Ohio Rev. Code 2917.21(B)) on the grounds that Gerhard said that she felt harassed by the posting. Ellison was convicted in a bench trial, and sentenced to a suspended 180-day jail sentence and one year probation. On appeal, the court held that while the statute is written broadly so that actual, direct communication with a target is not required for conviction, there was no evidence that Ellison had the criminal intent to harass Gerhard. Thus the court reversed and conviction and dismissed the case.

Links and Court Documents: court docket:
Appeals decision:

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