Update: Pino, 157 Lounge and other local court cases

157 Lounge on S. Water Street in downtown Kent on Oct. 18, 2017.

The following is an update on the status of four court cases relevant to Kent or Kent State. 

Pino to be sentenced in September

Former Kent State professor Julio Pino is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 25 after he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to lying to the FBI.

Pino was charged with one count of “making false statements to law enforcement.”

The charge stems from a 2015 investigation into a post by one of Pino’s Facebook friends, J.E., who threatened on social media to “kill 100s of people” over a child custody case, according to court documents.

Pino denied knowing or having interacted with J.E. and told investigators he “never heard of (J.E. or) maybe heard of him through the news.”

Authorities arrested J.E. on Jan. 11, 2016, after he made threats toward the judge involved in the custody case. That same day, J.E. posted on Facebook, “I f*****g love Julio Pino, even if he does eventually do something that most consider horrible, I’ll still love him because I know him in a deeper way than most of you even could.”

Pino was required to surrender his passport and other travel documents and pay a $25,000 bond until his sentencing.

The FBI also investigated Pino in 2016 for alleged ties to ISIS.

The university suspended Pino following his indictment by the FBI; he is not permitted on any Kent State campus. After he pleaded guilty in federal court, his employment was terminated.

Matthew Guska v. Sarah Andrews

A lawsuit between a downtown Kent bar owner and a Kent State alumna is ongoing with a few new developments.

In October 2017, Matthew Guska, the co-owner of 157 Lounge, filed a lawsuit against Sarah Andrews, a former employee, whom he said defamed him online.

The lawsuit said Andrews posted an article on social media in early September 2017 titled, “The Bill Cosby of Kent, Ohio,” and that it contained “false statements that were about him, which included allegations of sexual abusive behavior, sexual assault, rape, assault, racial discrimination, and racial and religious profiling.”

In court documents, Guska said the statements Andrews made in her article were not true and damaged his business and reputation. Andrews is countersuing for emotional distress.

Andrews was granted a civil protection order (CPO) against Guska in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas court. In her request for the CPO filed in September 2017, she said:

“My former boss took a photo of my face to a shooting range and him and another man (unknown) shot at my face and took a video with slander comments and stated, ‘This time, it’s personal.’ He has been very violent with me and my boyfriend in the past and am very scared for my safety because he is a heavy drinker and becomes mean and unpredictable.”

The case was transferred from the Portage County Common Pleas Court to Cuyahoga County in November 2017.

In February 2018, Guska filed a subpoena for Elizabeth Colley, Andrews’ friend, who started a GoFundMe page intended to help Andrews pay for her defense.

According to a letter sent to Colley by Brian Taubman, Guska’s lawyer, the GoFundMe page contained “unprofessional, unfounded and derogatory statements” about Guska.

The subpoena was later dropped.

KentWired left phone messages with Taubman and Andrews’ lawyer, David Nichols, asking about any updates in the case. The call was not returned. 

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7, and the trial is set to begin on Nov. 28.

Guska v. Kent State University

Guska also filed a complaint in the Ohio Court of Claims against Kent State University and one of its student-run magazines, Fusion, stating the magazine’s editor acted with “malicious purpose” and should be “personally held liable for his statements and actions.”

Its student editor at the time, MJ Eckhouse, briefly published an online article in September 2017 outlining Andrews’ allegations about Guska.

In the complaint, Guska says the article defamed him, caused physical and financial damage to him and his business and asked for monetary damages.

Eckhouse was originally named in both this case and a lawsuit Guska filed in the Portage County Common Pleas Court in September 2017.

The magistrate originally removed Eckhouse from the case in December 2017 because only state agencies can act as defendants in the Court of Claims. However, both Eckhouse and Guska are expected to appear during the trial, which is set to begin Feb. 11, 2019.

Kesterson v. Kent State University

Lauren Kesterson, a Kent State alumna and former softball player, filed suit in federal court against Kent State in February 2016, saying it violated her Title IX rights.

The lawsuit says former softball coach Karen Linder’s son, Tucker, raped Kesterson in her dorm room in December 2012. When Kesterson met with Karen Linder in May 2014 and told her about the rape, she said the coach failed to report it to the university as required by its policy and federal law. Kesterson met in March 2015 with Erin Barton, the university’s deputy coordinator for Title IX at the time, and filed her own Title IX report. 

Kesterson said she reported Tucker Linder’s actions to the athletic department in August 2015, but Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen intervened to stop the filing of a formal complaint and no-contact orders, according to the lawsuit. It also says Karen Linder blamed her resignation later that month on Kesterson, which caused retaliation against Kesterson from teammates, coaches and alumni.

Kesterson’s lawyer, Ashlie Sletvold, said the case is in the discovery phase, where each party will share information and evidence that may be presented at trial.

Brandon Bounds is the TV2 enterprise director. Contact him at [email protected].

Laina Yost is the KentWired enterprise editor. Contact her at [email protected].