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Councilman Young Not In Contempt Over Deleted Text Messages

Bill Rinehart
Wendell Young, (center left), and his attorney Scott Croswell, (center right) prepare to leave the courtroom Thursday morning.

A Hamilton County judge says there isn't evidence to show Wendell Young acted in contempt by deleting text messages from his phone last year. Judge Robert Ruehlman Thursday morning dismissed the case against the Cincinnati councilman which stemmed from a sunshine law case.

"I don't think there's enough evidence that I can find him guilty of contempt or anything like that. I wasn't looking to throw him in jail anyway. I think this is important to bring this all out, to explain to the public what happened."

Young was among five council members sued, alleging they ignored Ohio's open meetings law by communicating amongst themselves via text. The five settled with the plaintiff in March.  That settlement cost the city a little more than $100,000.

Young admitted to deleting the texts but said he only did so after the city solicitor's office had a chance to review them, and before Judge Ruehlman ordered the messages preserved. Young said he deleted the texts to clear room on his phone.

Young's attorney, Scott Croswell, raised questions about allegations of wrong doing. "Why is his phone not in the swimming pool? Why is his phone not in the hot tub? Why does he hand the phone over? Why does he make admissions that he deleted? Why any of these things?"

Another council member involved in the suit, Tamaya Dennard, said her phone was damaged by water at a swimming pool. Mayor John Cranley said his phone fell in a hot tub in February 2018.  The mayor was not involved in the texting case with the five council members.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.