Editor’s Note: The following is a preview chapter from Jeremy Baumhower’s Socked. This highly anticipated book chronicles the behind-the-scenes drama of Washington Local Schools, the fall of Superintendent Patrick Hickey, and the social media circus that caused it.
Chapter 12: Showing Restraint
The corridor of the Lucas County Courthouse was the first time I had ever seen Terri Kern in person. The atmosphere was thick — not of tension, but awkwardness. She and I both knew the truth behind the last 9 months. Her last-second Hail Mary was in the air and the ball was coming down. The clock had struck zero.
Kern’s attempt to silence me via the judicial system was running out of time. Six weeks earlier, Kern filed for and was granted a temporary restraining order against me. This surprising act of desperation happened hours after I posted “The moment you can prove who’s behind Hickey Leaks.”
We had never met. We had never been in the same room.
My life had been turned into a soap opera and this hearing was the season finale.
If you are wondering how a person could get a “Civil Stalking Protection Order Ex Parte” against someone they’ve never met, so was I.
An ex parte decision is one decided by a judge without requiring all of the parties to be present. Ex parte matters are usually temporary, pending a formal hearing. The court would rather err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to requests from people fearing for their lives.
Here’s the actual page of Kern’s request, where she describes the reasons why it was needed.
I know it is hard to read. I cannot imagine the stress she was under for those 13 hours from a vague Facebook post. I’m surprised she made it through the night.
Here are the highlights:
- “10/15/15 – I started getting messages on my blog.”
- “10/21/15 – Mr. Baumhower wrote an article about his dislike towards me.”
- “02/15/16 – Baumhower threatens me via Facebook message.”
- “Jeremy Baumhower started to harass me. At first it was childish posts on social media saying negative things about me.”
- “In November 2015 Baumhower filed a frivolous complaint against my counseling license with the State of Ohio.” “When I did not lose my license or receive a sanction he called my employer anonymously to try and have me fired. When that did not happen he threatened my sister Susan’s employment.”
- “In December 2015 he published my sister Susan’s mental health assessment from a 1996 lawsuit.”
- “He falsely accused me of publishing personal information about him on several websites.”
- “He published my address and phone number on his Facebook page.”
- “On February 15, 2016 he contacted my neighbor via Facebook and threatened me. He continues to post threats against me and my family indirectly via social media.”
- “My 82 year old mother started receiving harassing phone calls during the day while I was at work from anonymous callers.”
Nowhere did she mention that I was writing a series.
For the record, I never called Kern’s home, her employer, her sister’s employer, nor published her phone number or address. Furthermore, I’ve never created a sock account on any social media. I am proud of what I write and who I am. If you have followed me then you understand that I am fearless about things I report on and opinions given. I was the first person to break the story on Patrick Hickey’s job security, and the reasons behind it. I never divulged my sources and in the end two sworn statements attached to a ethics complaint confirmed my reporting. Finally, I did not file a complaint against Kern’s license. That is going to change.
One of my closest advisers of the last year has been my attorney, Stevin Groth. He has been my voice of reason and a constant source of hope. Groth has been my personal law professor, who has navigated me through the judicial system. He has received many crazy phone calls from a man believing his life was on trial. I now understand why lawyers are referred to as counselors.
The attorneys at Groth Law filed a motion of discovery to have Terri Kern supply the evidence to back her claims made against me.
This response is important because it gave me the legal opportunity to have Kern make her case. She had reported me as a threat to her and her family. She has made numerous posts on social media claiming I have been stalking and harassing her, and how she had feared for her 82 year-old mother.
Kern again portrayed herself as a victim and reported her case against me as if it were fact. Kern being granted an ex parte order provided additional fodder in her campaign to paint me as a villain.
What Kern didn’t calculate in her ploy to silence me provided the perfect example of what she posts as fact, versus what would stand up in court. Her perception against reality.
Terri Kern’s Day In Court
The day had finally arrived. After a couple of continuances, a date of May 6th, 2016 was assigned to hear the case of Kern v. Baumhower in a Lucas County courtroom.
I was excited to see her case against me. What possible evidence could she have?
Kern, I mean the MakingAPredator website, had spent the six previous weeks describing me in such an aggressive manner that if I did not know myself or the situation, I’d be terrified for her.
Unfortunately for her, I knew the truth.
Since this was my first restraining order I had no idea what to expect. There was no beautiful oversized courtroom — only a side office that looked as if it was converted for these type of hearings. There were two long tables, both equipped with a microphone, a larger desk in front, and one row of chairs behind for witnesses or spectators. It was a very tight room packed with a magistrate, two attorneys, a plaintiff, a defendant, a bailiff, and a court reporter.
In a humorous and transparent twist; Kern was represented by the same attorney that was acting as opposing counsel in my divorce proceedings.
Moments before the hearing began, Stevin Groth was handed a stack of separately stapled documents and papers. The pages were labeled ‘PLAINTIFF’S EXHIBIT’ 1 through 7. They were the plaintiff’s answer to our motion of discovery.
I remember chuckling as I peered at the top page. The upper left corner featured one word in larger font: “Threats.” Directly beneath, “This car went by several times with the passenger snapping photos of me and my house. November 25 2015.” Those words hovered above a grainy black and white surveillance photo. The picture labeled as ‘PLAINTIFF’S EXHIBIT One‘ displayed a Chrysler Town & Country minivan, one with a luggage rack. I drive a Dodge Caravan with no such luxury.
For the first time ever, I am now going to show you the evidence that Kern presented against me on May 6, 2016.
For over an hour, State Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Terri Kern, portrayed herself as the victim. Page after page she pled her case as to how I was terrorizing not only her life, but that of her 82-year-old mother. She never got emotional nor did she appear scared as I was less than 10 feet away.
During the hearing, she repeatedly conceded that we had never met, nor been in the same room. Her biggest piece of evidence was a message that I had sent to a sock account in February, two months previous. I had messaged a “Sofia Elizabeth”: “It’s getting closer, Terri. Tick-tick, tick-tick”— it was a reference to my upcoming written series and was an emotional response to another website being launched. Amazingly Terri Kern received the message, and sent my attorney a very lengthy email in less than 30 minutes. But I digress…
Kern could not explain the reason why if she feared for her safety from a messaged “threat” (sent to her “friend”), she would wait over two months to ask for a protection order. She did not provide any proof that phone calls were made to her house, to her or her sister’s employer, nor was it even addressed. She could not provide any complaints I made against her counseling license or even a social media post where I proclaimed I had.
Kern did provide an interesting document labeled “PLAINTIFF’S EXHIBIT Seven.”
The “PLAINTIFF’S EXHIBIT Seven” was a formal letter from William L. Hegarty, Deputy Director of the State of Ohio’s Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Family Therapist Board. It was his findings for the complaint filed against Kern’s license. It stated “The Committee determined that formal discipline is not warranted but wanted to caution you about proper professional responsibilities and maintaining a high standard of professional ethics in the area of appropriate use of your professional credentials.”
The letter confirmed what I had been cautioning Kern about over the first initial months. Licensed Counselors can not issue or insinuate diagnosis of others in a public forum or from their professional blogs. For months Kern publicly diagnosed Patrick Hickey as a “narcissist” on her blog used for professional reasons.
The letter continued, “The Committee is very concerned about your usage of social media including blogging about the meeting that you had with me concerning this investigation. The case is now closed.” It was dated January 22, 2016, three weeks before the launching of MakingAPredator.com.
Terri Kern looked defeated before the doors were even closed and the hearing began. After 90 minutes of plaintiff testimony, her Attorney rested the case. Stevin Groth asked the magistrate for a dismissal, citing Kern’s inability to provide any evidence of a credible threat against her. The magistrate took Groth’s request under advisement and ordered a recess for him to consider the matter. The magistrate then got up and left the room.
Ten minutes later the magistrate returned and it was all over. Terri Kern’s case against me was dismissed.
I never answered a single question, nor was asked. To use a sports analogy, it was over at halftime. We didn’t have to put on a defense.
According to the ruling, “The Petitioner (Kern) has not established by a preponderance of the evidence that Respondent (Me) has knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct that caused (Kern) to believe that (Me) will cause physical harm or has caused mental distress to (Kern) or any other persons in the petition.”
The magistrate’s ruling did not surprise nor affect me in any capacity. I knew the true motive behind the attempted legal action. It was as transparent as my case against her.
Terri Kern did not want me to share the contents of this book.
Within hours Terri Kern posted the following response on her professional blog.
Kern’s post, titled “The End” is a perfect microcosm of everything I have presented in this book so far. She said the reason her case was dismissed was “the magistrate found that I had not been emotionally damaged enough to issue the order.” Not true. The magistrate never spoke about the level of her emotional “damage.” The dismissal was entirely about her complete lack of evidence to support her claims.
Did you laugh when you read “Everything he will write will be 100% false”? Obviously, she had no idea what was going to be in this book.
Kern’s post continued and once again she names the WLS employee who filed a complaint against Hickey. Wouldn’t you think that a person who “advocates” for women would protect the identity of a female accuser, or any females associated with the complaint? If you were to believe Kern’s case — how does one “advocate” for alleged victims in Addison, and publish the names of potentially more in Washington Local Schools?
“While I agree with the magistrate in that the emotional suffering for myself is not at a high level, what unfortunately was not taken into consideration is the complete paranoia my mother now suffers in her home of 60+ years at the hands of this maniac.” Kern just had her day in court to present any and all “considerations,” failed to provide any sort of evidence and then proceeds to call me the “maniac.”
“What was achieved today was not about me, but it is about Bunny. Baumhower has taken away her sense of security in the home she has lived for over 60 years… She is almost completely blind and suffers from dementia. She constantly looks out the windows and is afraid to answer the telephone. She cried when I returned home to tell her that he is free to post our address, phone number, and opinions on our family.”
Kern’s words could not upset me more. My closest friend is my 84- year-old grandfather. I have made sure that he and my 81-year-old grandmother are left out of the loop with this craziness and they are both in great health. Why would her 82-year-old mother, who’s battling dementia and going blind, ever learn my name? For Kern to call me the “maniac” after filing a nonsensical protection order complaint against a man she’d never met and has falsely created fear into her own mother’s heart is irony at its finest.
Instead of making claims against my abilities to be a father, maybe Lucas County should visit the Kern home to check in on the well-being of Bunny.
A couple of days after the dismissal the MakingAPredator website magically disappeared. Its final post was one for the ages.
I was surprised it took two days to post an update to Friday’s main event. Especially since this was a massive story for the website over the previous month.
Under the headline “PROTECTION ORDER DISMISSED IN BAUMHOWER STALKING CASE” were many inaccuracies. “During the hearing, Kern established a pattern of threats published by Baumhower on social media … The next level of consideration was the amount of emotional and mental stress Baumhower’s childish posts had on Kern. The magistrate stated while he agrees it is likely stressful to have someone constantly posting about her, Kern did not suffer a level of emotional damage to warrant a protection order.”
Again, read the decision and compare the website’s version.
The post continued: “What was determined is that Kern may have a strong civil suit against Baumhower should she decide to pursue that route.” You have to love thinly veiled threats like these — but how could this have been determined when “the Petitioner (Kern) has not established … a preponderance of the evidence”?
There was more. “Looking disheveled, Baumhower immediately posted selfies after the hearing at the courthouse with his main groupies Jackie “The Nana” Semelka and Melanie “Brow Beater” Garcia … We were told that officers of the court were discussing the jeans, sweatshirts and wrinkled clothing the trio wore.”
“Kern, accompanied by her sister Susan … partook in some retail therapy and went on to celebrate Susan’s birthday and hosted a party in their home.” I guess if someone went shopping and celebrated a birthday, they would not have time to update their website.
Two days later — and to quote the great Hall & Oates — “She’s Gone.”
The second website came and went, and you just knew it had to be a trilogy.
I recently requested and received the video transcripts from my Civil Stalking Protection Order proceedings. Watch for the first time as Mental Health Counselor Terri Kern requests protection from a man she had never met.
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