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March 24, 2013

Police are considering whether to press charges against a Delaware County magistrate after he allegedly threatened a Delaware County information technology employee last Friday at the county courthouse.

In the meantime, Domestic Relations Magistrate Stephen E. Weithman has been suspended for a week without pay as a result of the March 4 incident.

The incident took place around 2:30 p.m. after Nathan Long, an employee in the county auditor’s office, had arrived to work on Weithman’s county-owned computer, according to Common Pleas Judge W. Duncan Whitney, who supervises Weithman.

Messages seeking comment left at Weithman’s office were not returned. County Auditor George Kaitsa declined to comment for this story, and has instructed his employees to not speak to the media since there is an ongoing criminal investigation.

Since people with direct knowlege of the situation would not comment about what happened, it’s not clear what exactly took place. However, Weithman made an “inappropriate gesture” toward Long, according to a letter from Common Pleas Judge W. Duncan Whitney in Weithman’s personnel file.

“Your action may have been an attempt at humor. The recipient, however, did not find it funny. The physical touching of another employee cannot be tolerated under any circumstances,” Whitney wrote in a March 4 letter in Weithman’s personnel file meting out the suspension.

Long called police later that afternoon and filed a criminal complaint, according to a Delaware city police report. Police are investigating suspected disorderly conduct, according to Police Capt. Bruce Pijanowski.

“It is under investigation, and it’s been sent to the (city) prosecutor’s office for further review,” Pijanowski said.

Since no one has been charged, Pijanowski said he could not discuss what allegedly took place, and did not confirm Weithman is a suspect.

Disorderly conduct is a wide-reaching charge under Ohio law, but includes unwelcome harassing or threatening behavior toward another person. It is a minor misdemeanor, with a maximum $150 fine and no jail time.

Weithman’s suspension is in effect for this week. Magistrate Terrie Clinger filled in during a divorce-related hearing in Weithman’s courtroom on Tuesday. Weithman, who is also a member of Ohio Association of Magistrates Board of Trustees, has worked for the county since 1993, and makes $42.45 an hour. He has not previously been disciplined, according to his county personnel file.

Long has worked for the Delaware County Auditor’s Office as a computer administrator for about two months, and he makes $16.11 an hour.

Since the incident involves employees of the auditor’s office and the court system, county commissioners are not involved in any way, said County Administrator Tim Hansley. However, the commissioners’ human resources department have talked to Long, he said.

“Our (human resources) people did talk to Nathan and counseled him as an employee as a courtesy,” Hansley said.