When the Kimberlin family appealed the denial of a protective order for their daughter, a Maryland judge warned defendant William Hoge and his accomplice Aaron Walker that they stood on thin legal ice.
Although Judge Audrey Creighton concluded that a lack of evidence of Hoge’s harassment during the previous 30 days made it impossible to grant the requested peace order, she still took time to point out the potential criminal consequences of Hoge’s online behavior.
Creighton made the comments twice: at the end of oral arguments, even talking right over Hoge’s attorney P. Francis Ostronic, and then again while rendering her decision.
I’m just so sad that innocent children are being dragged into this. It just breaks my heart and at some point the people responsible for this mean, vicious blogging may find themselves in criminal court and subsequently behind bars. This is completely unacceptable child abuse of sorts.
[…] I stand behind my remarks that I made earlier about how it’s breaking my heart that innocent children are being victimized by rants and hate mail over the internet that have to do with their father, that have to do with things that happened a long time ago, things that he was sentenced and served his sentence out as far as I know. It’s really inexcusable to bring children into this, whoever’s doing it. And as I said at some point in time if there’s sufficient evidence, and if it rises to the level of criminal conduct and that can be proven in a court of law by the prosecutor’s office, then whoever’s doing this will be in a lot of trouble and possibly behind bars.
While she pointedly did not say that Hoge was guilty of stalking or harassing a minor over the internet, any reasonable person can hear the message in Judge Creighton’s voice: Knock it off or there will be hell to pay.
It is characteristic of Hoge to try speaking with judges after they drop their gavels, and this time was no different. Included at the end of the above audio, you can hear Judge Creighton shut Hoge down during one of these attempts at ex parte communication.
The exchange took place after she had given the Kimberlin family a few moments’ head start in leaving the courthouse to avoid any physical confrontations in the lobby. Aaron Walker, Kimberlin’s uniquely-insane courtroom antagonist, was present for the hearing and has a history of violent bullying in the courthouse.
Despite living in Virginia, Walker’s influence on the proceeding was clear when Ostronic opened by arguing at length that Brett Kimberlin should not be allowed to testify because of a 40 year-old conviction for perjury.
However, Judge Creighton seemed to appreciate that this was just an attempt to prejudice the court against the Kimberlins, as Mr. Kimberlin was not a witness in the hearing and did not act as legal counsel.
Instead, his wife and older daughter took the stand to tell Judge Creighton about their experience as victims of Hoge and Walker.
Fighting tears, Kelsie Kimberlin told the court how the two men had completely disrupted her high school education. The Kimberlin daughters were forced to change schools three times in close succession as each new set of peers discovered the smears and fabrications that Hoge and Walker propagate daily through social media and blogs.
The worst episode was in 2013, when Hoge and others directed their rabid right wing readers to comment on a news article about Kelsie’s budding musical career. That incident was a subject of testimony in both the district court hearing and the appeal Judge Creighton heard.
BU will not be posting the audio of Kelsie’s remarks so as to spare her any further social media torment. But we will report that when her tears turned to rage, the resulting testimony was a virtual flamethrower that left both men reduced to verbal piles of smoking ash.
Courage swelled in her voice as she asked Judge Creighton why Hoge and Walker can’t seem to find anything better to do with their lives than make hers miserable.
She demanded to know why Hoge, a creepy 60-something year-old man and avowed enemy of her father, would even comment in response to questions about whether she is legally old enough to have sex yet.
Gaining in volume and fury, Kelsie made it clear she does not welcome Aaron Walker’s deluded fantasies about ‘saving’ her from her father. In fact, she all but told him to drop dead.
This testimony undoubtedly impressed Judge Creighton, who was moved to make her remarks and then reiterate them while delivering her decision.
Creighton has since retired from the bench.
Inspired by Kelsie’s example, BU stands by our previous reporting in this matter.