A police report has been turned over to prosecutors concerning an allegation that a Brighton school board trustee filed a false police report against an attorney who led a recall campaign against him.
Attorney Sarah Cross, a district parent who organized the recall effort against Brighton Area Schools trustees John Conely and Bill Trombley, claims Conely filed a false police report against her in an attempt to silence her efforts at the recall campaign.
An investigation was conducted by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and according to Cross, was completed two weeks ago and turned over to the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether charges will be filed.
A request for comment to the prosecutor’s office has so far gone unreturned.
Cross tells GIGO News that as an attorney who has practiced for almost twenty years she has confidence in the justice system.
“That’s one reason that cases like this are so important locally,” said Cross. “No matter a person’s local standing or connections, they need to obey the law. If Mr. Conely isn’t held responsible for his actions it might send an unfortunate message to the community that people with money and connections in local politics experience a totally different version of the legal system than other people. He needs to be held responsible for his actions. The false police report he made wasted a substantial amount of time and resources.”
Cross says Conely contacted Brighton Area School Resource Officer, Deputy Bill Schuster, and claimed that at the June 13th board meeting, a Scranton Middle School teacher told him that she witnessed another teacher purposely prop open a door to the school so that Cross could collect recall petition signatures.
At the August 8 meeting of the Brighton Area Schools Board of Education, Cross said Conely claimed that the incident occurred sometime between May 1st and May 15th but that both the alleged witness and teacher had provided statements to police that it never happened.
“I would not risk my career or my personal morals for Mr. Conely,” Cross told the board. “I’m 44 and I haven’t even had a speeding ticket. I certainly haven’t conspired with the teacher to recklessly endanger the lives and safety of the staff and children of our district. John Conely knowingly filed this false report. If he believed it was true, as a school board member, he had a duty of care to this district and to our children to immediately report it, not to wait over two weeks. He didn’t. That’s because it didn’t happen, and he knows it didn’t happen.”
She called it “a blatant act of voter intimidation and misfeasance in office,” adding that Conely had “learned nothing from his misappropriation of the Holocaust.”
The petition that had been seeking Conely’s ouster was based on his language in an email last year to a former district employee who asked that he vote in favor of a mask mandate for students in the district to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In that email, Conely stated “You mean like Hitler did? Mandates, we don’t have laws to support them. We are not Socialists.”
That response prompted a rebuke from Carolyn Nornandin, the Regional Director the Anti-Defamation League of Michigan (ADL Michigan), said she was “deeply disturbed” by the statement which she said was “shameful” for “connecting current health policies during a pandemic, with an administration seeking to commit mass genocide of targeted groups.”
Cross noted that Conely’s report to police came came just weeks after the May 24 school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in which 19 children and three adults were killed, and 18 others were injured.
“Now he’s taken the tragic death of innocent children and used it to retaliate against our staff and community in an attempt to undermine the recall drive,” she said. “The recall drive is a political campaign. People have the right to sign these petitions, thousands of parents’ signatures, absent of fear. Mr. Conely lost to me in court and he can’t get me fired from my job. So his next best intimidation tactic is to file false police charges against me to defame my character and to attempt to send a message to our staff into this district about the recall drive. I ask you members of this board, when will this be enough? When will Mr. Conely be held accountable for his ethical violations, retaliation and blatant harassment of our staff and community members?”
Cross’ presentation to the board came on the same day that GIGO News reported that both Conely and Trombley were accused by the district of conspiring with members of the local Moms for Liberty chapter in a series of “blatantly frivolous lawsuits” filed against the district last December, but then dropped on August 4 at their request.