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Hearing adjourned again on PPO against Livingston GOP Chair

A hearing on whether or not to terminate a Personal Protection Order (PPO) against the head of the Livingston County Republican Party has again been adjourned.

The PPO was sought and granted last October by Brighton attorney Sarah Cross, who said she had been harassed and her family threatened by Jennifer Smith, who was elected as Chair of the Livingston County GOP in December.

Smith, who headed up the local Moms for Liberty chapter, has since filed to terminate the order, with a hearing held Thursday, March 2 in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. However, the judge determined additional witnesses would need to be heard from and adjourned the hearing until March 21.

In the petition filed October 31st with the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, and granted the same day, Cross said Smith had become “extremely fixated” on her after she reported Smith to the FBI following her comments at a Brighton Area Schools Board of Education meeting in which Smith threatened members during a discussion over mask usage and quarantining students.

“We’re coming for you,” said Smith. “Take it as a threat. Call the FBI. I don’t care. You’re all either going to be recalled or we’re all coming for you. That’s what’s happening.”

Smith did end up being visited by an FBI agent, whom she told “she was upset about the school board’s mask mandates and that her statement was a warning that her organization would seek to replace the school board with new members through the electoral process.”

However, Cross said that since Smith “was investigated as a domestic terrorist by the FBI, she has become extremely fixted on me,” including that on at least two occasions in May and June of 2022 “she pointed out in public forums that I would be or often was alone. Again, the only purpose for making comments like that is to encourage people to harass me or to put me in fear for my own safety.”

Cross also alleged that at least twice Smith revealed her home address online , the purpose of which was “to scare me and to encourage people to harass me and my family.”

“In fact, we have been harassed,” Cross’ petition stated. “In May I had people come into my yard twice and try to take my dog. On May 10th we had people parked across the street from our house taking photos and videos of our house. Someone came onto my property and cut the cords on my outdoor lights. I’ve had to have security cameras installed around my entire home.”

Cross further alleged that on July 12, 2022 she was in her yard gardening when Smith drove by her house.

“She flipped me off as her husband screamed at me out the window of their car,” said the petitioner. “I made a post in a private group about the incident. Ms. Smith immediately began making posts claiming she feared for her safety and the safety of her family from her crazy stalker. I was at my own home.”

Cross said that Smith had also made posts about her business and her employment in an effort to actively get people to harass her and her employer.

“She has a history of this type of conduct,” she said. “To further incite harassment against me, Ms. Smith has made unfounded, public claims that I was stalking, threatening and harassing her children and that she feared for her safety. She stated in public posts that I ruined her life, got her husband fired from his job, and lost her children their health insurance. I never did any of that. All of those posts were attempts to stir up outrage to further incentivize people to harass me.”

Cross said she hoped Smith’s “fixation” on her would subside, but that at the time of the October filing, it had not.

“Ms. Smith continues, through her various online pseudonyms, to make posts about me and to make references to my home address,” she alleged. “During the last three weeks, she has written multiple “op-eds” for her blog The Livingston Lantern again making allegations that I am stalking and harassing her and pointing people to my home. As recently as October 29, 2022 she sent 7 unsolicited messages to me. They talk about how it’s my fault if I’m getting harassed because my address was used on a website. Again, the website doesn’t use my name in any way. She keeps pointing out that it’s my home address publicly. The only reason to do that is to be encouraging people to harass me.”

Cross said that since the harassment began, she has developed a stress related tremor in her hand and had been seen by her doctor for heart palpitations.

“I certainly do not want to be asking the court for a PPO,” she told the court. “I’ve tried to avoid this situation coming to this. Unfortunately, Ms. Smith’s behavior is becoming more and more erratic. Her fixation on me as a person, my home, and my family has escalated to a point where I do not feel safe in my home. My teenage daughter is scared to go into our yard.”

She concluded by asking the court to grant an order ex parte, citing the “escalating attacks on me publicly and the recent round of publicly pointing people to my home address. my personal safety and the safety of my family.”

While the PPO remains in effect, Smith is prohibited from appearing appear at Cross’ workplace, home, public places or on private property. She also can not send her mail or any other communication, including by telephone, nor make any threatening statements about her on the internet. Smith is also forbidden from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

Smith’s attorney, Kristina Lyke, characterized the allegations as speculation her client was involved, although the judge noted that the online comments and threats against Cross ended as soon as the PPO was filed.

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