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School board member calls court’s decision to deny restraining order ‘reckless’

School board member calls court’s decision to deny restraining order ‘reckless’
Ocean View School District trustee Gina Clayton-Tarvin.

Ocean View School District trustee Gina Clayton-Tarvin issued a statement late Wednesday calling a court decision denying her request for a permament restraining order against a Huntington Beach blogger "reckless."

"It is a tragic day in Orange County when the civil court will not extend an already-existing restraining order to protect against threats to kill me, take an axe to my family and to bomb a public meeting," Clayton-Tarvin said in a text message to the Daily Pilot.

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Clayton-Tarvin, 46, alleged in court documents that Charles Keeler Johnson, 56, had threatened her on his blog, on social media and at school board meetings, causing her to "fear for my own safety and for that of my immediate family members."

Orange County Superior Court Judge Timothy J. Stafford initally approved a temporary restraining order March 26 against Johnson, who goes by "Chuck" and publishes HBSledgehammer.com, but denied Clayton-Tarvin's request to make it permanent.

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Stafford called the school board member's petition "weak," adding that she knew the consequences of elected office.

Clayton-Tarvin, who is also a teacher, criticized Stafford's ruling, saying she feels physically threatened.

"I reject in the strongest manner the notion that these violent threats are 'free speech' — and believe that the decisions of both the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court support my position," Clayton-Tarvin said. "Likewise, the Huntington Beach Police Department thought these were credible threats and turned the matter over to the Orange County district attorney for charges, and the matter remains an open case."

During the court hearing, Johnson said the trustee tried to stifle his freedom of speech. He contended that Clayton-Tarvin took his blog and Facebook posts too literally and out of context, saying anyone who is "afraid of metaphors has serious issues."

Stafford also criticized Johnson, saying he wasn't "impressed with (his) explanation on why things were written the way they were."

In a statement, Johnson said he was thankful to have prevailed and vowed to continue battling Clayton-Tarvin in civil court, if necessary.

"The idea that an elected official would go to these lengths to silence a private citizen should frighten everyone," Johnson said. "But as we have seen for several years, Gina Clayton Tarvin has a history of retaliating against critics with threats, intimidation and now these baseless lawsuits."

Twitter: @vegapriscella

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