LOGAN — In September, a viral video showed a Marietta woman being removed from school property after allegedly refusing to comply with the Logan-Hocking School District’s mask policy. A pre-trial hearing took place on Tuesday in the case of Alecia Kitts, and a jury trial has been scheduled for Jan. 28.
Prior to the pre-trial hearing, a recusal entry had been submitted by the judge in the case on Nov. 9. Hocking County Municipal Court Judge Fred Moses told The Logan Daily News that in the interest of a fair trial, a local judge should not hear the case, as it deals with an issue of intense local interest. The judge did not wish to go into further detail about his basis for recusing himself.
The case is now being heard by retired Franklin County Judge Michael Brandt, who was assigned to the case by the Ohio Supreme Court. He has over 20 years of experience on the bench in Franklin County.
Kitts is being represented by Maurice Thompson, and the attorney representing the city of Logan is City Law Director Abigail Saving.
On Sept. 23 at around 5:30 p.m., Logan-Hocking resource officer Chris Smith was conducting special duty detail at the Logan High School Stadium. That day there were seventh and eighth grade football games being played.
According to the Logan Police Department, the Logan-Hocking School District had requested the special duty detail to make sure the safety of fans and athletes during sporting events was maintained.
As per the school district’s policy, part of the officer’s duty was to ensure locals and visiting fans complied with the state and federal public health guidelines. The district mandated that all spectators must wear facial coverings while on school grounds.
Kitts was one of the several spectators present during the middle school football games. After noticing she was not wearing a mask, Officer Smith advised her to put one on. Kitts responded that she had asthma and was not going to wear a mask.
Smith told Kitts that day that if she did not comply with the school’s policy, she would be asked to leave. After Kitts allegedly refused to leave the property, Officer Smith arrested her for criminal trespassing.
The Logan Police Department has clarified that Kitts was not arrested for failing to wear a mask, but rather for refusing to leave the stadium after violating the school’s policy.
The Logan-Hocking School District changed aspects of its facial covering policy for spectators shortly after the incident happened. The district has also released guidelines for its winter sports season.
According to the district, masks are now mandated for all spectators, workers, athletes, students and coaches at all times unless a student or athlete is engaged in a contest or activity. If an individual has a health condition that indicates they should not wear a mask, they are required to wear a face shield instead, with “no exception.”