Mayor’s Deluded Crusade Against ‘Child Porn’ in Classrooms Unravels

An Ohio mayor has been blasted by a local prosecutor but will not face criminal charges after demanding that every school board member resign over his deluded belief that they were disseminating child pornography in a classroom. Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert’s claims were simply not true, the county prosecutor said after investigating the wild accusation,…

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An Ohio mayor has been blasted by a local prosecutor but will not face criminal charges after demanding that every school board member resign over his deluded belief that they were disseminating child pornography in a classroom.

Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert’s claims were simply not true, the county prosecutor said after investigating the wild accusation, and could’ve gotten out of hand if the situation went his way.

“The reckless conduct by Hudson’s mayor resulted in threats, fear, and hate-filled words from around the country,” Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said in a statement Tuesday, according to News5 Cleveland.

The saga began in September when Shubert, a Republican, said that he’d received a number of complaints about writing exercises in 642 Things to Write About, a book of writing prompts for high school students taking a class for college credit.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported that, just hours after learning about the book’s existence, Shubert brought it up at a Sept. 13 school board meeting—the first he’d ever attended. He said there were exercises asking students to write stories or essays that they would not share with their parents, on topics that included sex and drinking alcohol.

Speakers at the meeting said that the assignments were not appropriate for high school students and akin to “grooming.”

Shubert reportedly told the school board, “It has come to my attention that your educators are distributing essentially what is child pornography in the classroom.”

He said he spoke to a judge who also deemed the material to be unsuitable for high school students. Shubert gave the five board members an ultimatum: they could either resign by the end of the month, or he would press charges against them.

After a request from the Hudson chief of police to conduct an investigation, Walsh looked into the matter and found that Shubert’s threat was way out of line.

In a statement and six-page report released on Tuesday, Walsh said Shubert’s accusations were not true and it was unacceptable for him to threaten school board members.

“As a prosecutor and a mother, I am always concerned about claims of individuals being involved in child pornography,” Walsh said, according to WKYC in Cleveland. “However, in this case, these allegations were false and caused numerous public servants to be victimized.”

Walsh explained in her statement that the course that used 642 Things to Write About was part of a college credit program that had been approved by the state’s House and Senate.

“The program may deal with ‘mature subject matter,’ which is defined as subject matter or material of a graphic, explicit, violent, or sexual nature. The House and Senate mandated a disclaimer for all institutions participating in this program,” Walsh wrote.

“In order for a student to attend these classes, every student and parent is required…to sign a waiver acknowledging ‘adult themes and content’…would ‘not be modified to accommodate the age of the College Credit Plus participants.’”

Walsh also noted that 642 Things to Write About is open-ended with a one-sentence prompt in which students can steer the assignment however they choose. No illustrations or pictures are provided.

“In Ohio,” Walsh wrote, “child pornography is obscene material involving a juvenile…or any material that causes an excessive interest in sexual matters and lacks literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The book at issue does not display any material involving a juvenile, let alone any obscene or sexually oriented material involving a juvenile.”

Walsh also went to task to admonish the mayor’s threats and the rippling negative impact it had on school officials. She claimed that some administrators received offensive calls and messages, threats, and verbal assaults.

The mayor’s misguided crusade is just one of numerous similar campaigns across the country as adults attempt to purge material they deem explicit from classrooms and school libraries. During a Chicago-area school board meeting on Monday night, attendees demanded a book be removed from the library for apparently pushing pornographic and sexually explicit content onto students. A Virginia school board member wanted to ban a Toni Morrison novel in October for “pornographic” content. And in September, a group of moms in Tennessee demanded students be forbidden from reading books about Martin Luther King Jr., calling them too “divisive.”

However, it seems that Hudson’s college credit course has, for now, survived the book-banning brigade.

Shubert did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast on Wednesday.

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