MOUNT VERNON — Two experts took the stand Monday afternoon as rebuttal witnesses in the John Freshwater contract termination hearing.
The first, Harold F. Rodin, is a certified questioned document examiner from Xenia. He gave his credentials, then explained the process by which handwriting is analyzed. He said that process was used when he examined samples of John Freshwater’s handwriting and compared it to handwritten notes on the top of a page of a science magazine article about the construction of tall skyscrapers.
Although Freshwater, in December, would not say it was his handwriting on the article, Rodin said that in his opinion, the writing does compare. He used a comparison chart to explain how he reached his conclusion, and said, “This established in my mind the writings were done by the same person. ... There is a reasonable degree of scientific certainty involved.”
Freshwater said earlier he did not write the religious references noted with the article.
Freshwater’s lawyer, Kelly Hamilton, asked Rodin whether he worked from an original or a copy. Rodin said it was a copy, adding that with today’s modern science and copy machine technology, one obtains almost photographic reproductions of things that are copied.
“Could there be distortions if it isn’t an original?” asked Hamilton.
“Not in the copies I have,” responded Rodin.
The second expert was computer forensic analyst John Liptak with the Jurinnov Co. in Cleveland. A certified examiner for the past four years, Liptak described the process by which stored computer information is retrieved and investigated. Liptak testified he was asked to examine certain e-mails, which were challenged in the hearing by Freshwater, to determine their authenticity. Liptak said he found no evidence of tampering in any of them, and said each was a “true and authentic e-mail.”
Answering a question by Hamilton, Liptak said he could tell the e-mails were authentic, but could not testify as to who “used the keyboard” to create them.
Freshwater previously asserted the e-mails had been tampered with.
Former school board member Steve Hughes also testified on Monday. Many of the questions posed by Hamilton related to Hughes’ conversation with Freshwater in January. Those questions specific to his stint as a school board member could not be answered due to attorney-client privilege and/or rules governing executive session.
Speaking as a private citizen, however, Hughes said he thought it was appropriate for former board member Ian Watson to consult the American Civil Liberties Union and that a Bible on a teacher’s desk, when combined with other items in the room, was a religious display.
Brad Ritchey, former assistant principal at the Mount Vernon Middle School, said principal Bill White did not, as Freshwater claimed, advise Freshwater to destroy the Tesla coil. Ritchey also said that when asked about the alleged healing session at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting, Freshwater put his hands in the air to demonstrate what he did. That apparently contradicts Freshwater’s earlier statement that he could not have elevated his arms during prayer since he was in therapy for an injured shoulder at the time.
The board’s attorney, David Millstone, questioned Freshwater on Monday morning.
Asked why he checked a Bible out of the school library in April 2008 after being asked to remove one from his desk, Freshwater replied, “I was curious. I went to see if they had a Bible in the library. They did. I flipped through it and wanted to look further, so I checked it out.”
On Friday, Freshwater discussed the discrepancy of numbers written on boxes allegedly containing materials from his classroom. Monday he was shown photos from January which purportedly showed those same boxes. There were no numbers written on them.
“Do you remember if the boxes were numbered in January?” asked Millstone.
“I do not remember,” answered freshwater.
“Is it possible they were not numbered at that time?”
“Anything is possible,” replied Freshwater.