Former state representative candidate files to have protection order charge dismissed
2 Minutes, 53 Seconds
Written By Harold Harper
A former Democratic candidate for the 12th District State Representative nomination recently filed a motion to dismiss a criminal charge against him that stems from a Facebook exchange.
Brandon Dothager, a Highland precinct committeeman and former candidate for the 12th District seat, was charged in May in Lake County Circuit Court with violating a protective order, a misdemeanor.
Highland Democratic Party Chairwoman Marsha Novak, who filed a protective order against Dothager last year, previously said she went to authorities because the recent Facebook comments involved her family.
Jesse Harper, who represents Dothager, 26, previously said the charges stem from a “debate” on Facebook, and that the charge violates his First Amendment rights.
In March, the Post-Tribune published an article detailing the restraining orders filed against Dothager. According to a May 11 probable cause affidavit, Dothager posted the article on Facebook and “in the comments of this post several readers post about the actual article and appear to side with Mr. Dothager on the article matter.”
One commenter wrote “in defense of Mrs. Novak calling Mr. Dothager a disrespectful liar,” according to court records. After they “argue back and forth” Dothager posted a screenshot of the commenter’s friend list capturing 12 names with the last name Novak, according to court records.
“At no time does Mrs. Novak comment to any of these posts and Mr. Dothager did not directly contact her. Mrs. Novak believes that this is an indirect attempt to annoy and harass her,” according to court records.
Harper filed a motion to dismiss the charges stating that affidavit doesn’t “contain any facts to establish that (Dothager) violated any protective order.” The motion states that Dotahger “made comments in a public forum, " to discuss political issues.
Harper said the case is similar to if Dothager had “turned right on red, let’s charge him with burglary.”
“There really is – even if you believe the information – no crime,” Harper said.
Dothager did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In a filed affidavit, Dothager said he felt he needed to respond after sharing the screenshot because the commenter called him a stalker.
“As a candidate for political office, I felt I needed to refute the comment to set the records straight. My only intention was to point out the commenter’s bias, I never intentionally or with knowledge attempted to directly or indirectly contact Marsha Novak,” Dothager wrote in the affidavit.
Novak told the Post-Tribune Monday that she hopes the case isn’t dismissed, and that he’s “definitely wrong” to file for a dismissal because he harassed her family on Facebook.
“All I wanted to do was for him to stop,” Novak said. “He just keeps it up. He doesn’t care.”
Novak said Dothager has been harassing her for more than two years, and she went to court after he broke the protective order because he hasn’t stopped.
Novak said she has until Aug. 26 to file her brief regarding the case.
Author: ALEXANDRA KUKULKA @ POST-TRIBUNE