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Gibson's Bakery responds to Oberlin College's court request

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    Gibson's bakery is shown on Friday, Nov. 10.



ELYRIA — Oberlin College has engaged in “victim-shaming” of Gibson’s Bakery, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

The filing was made on behalf of Gibson’s in response to Oberlin College’s request to throw out part of a lawsuit filed by the bakery in November. Gibson’s sued the college and Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students, for libel, slander, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and trespass.

Oberlin College has asked a county judge to dismiss two counts, the negligent hiring of Raimondo and trespass.

Gibson’s response said the college offered commentary on the remainder of the case, as well.

“In doing so, the Defendants double down on their victim-shaming,” the filing said. “There is no dispute that three Oberlin College students pleaded guilty to attempted theft and aggravated trespassing at Gibson’s Bakery. Following the arrests of those students, an orchestrated defamation campaign was waged against Plaintiffs, which damaged Plaintiffs’ reputation and financially devastated their business.”

The rift between the bakery and the college began last year when a student tried to buy alcohol with a fake ID from Allyn Gibson, who is the son of the bakery’s owner, David Gibson.

The police report said Allyn Gibson told Jonathan Aladin he was calling the police and not to leave. Gibson said he then took out his phone to take a photo of Aladin, and Aladin slapped the phone from his hand and the device hit Gibson in the face. Police have said Aladin then ran from the store, dropping the two bottles of wine to the floor.

Allyn Gibson chased after Aladin, and the two men got into a physical confrontation outside. When police arrived, they reported seeing Allyn Gibson on the ground with Aladin and the two other students charged, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone, hitting him.

The incident became racially charged because Allyn Gibson is white and the students are black. All three students pleaded guilty in August to misdemeanor charges and read statements into the record acknowledging that Allyn Gibson was within his right to detain the shoplifter and that his actions were not racially motivated.

In its motion to dismiss, filed earlier this month, the college said Gibson’s has “rejected all attempts from Oberlin College to rise above misunderstandings, perceived wrongs, and outrage, and further rejected Oberlin’s vision of a new relationship built on personal accountability and a shared commitment to overall health of their beloved hometown.”

The response by Gibson’s says that while the students accepted their responsibility for the attempted theft, Oberlin College and Raimondo “refuse to accept responsibility” for their actions.

The bakery’s lawyers have argued that Oberlin College wants Gibson’s to look the other way rather than reporting crime and rise above the “reputational destruction and financial devastation resulting from the college’s conduct.

“While that may describe (the college’s) vision of ‘affecting positive change in the world,’ it blatantly ignores the real-world consequences that (its actions have caused [Gibson’s] as they struggle to survive,” the response said.

The response also calls for the court to not dismiss the claims of negligent hiring, retention or supervision for the hiring of Raimondo and trespass.

Gibson’s claims their lawyers have not had access to Raimondo’s personnel file and other information relating to any other complaints against her, including her full employment history. It also points out that the college is currently the defendant in a federal court case in which a former student alleges Raimondo was the “architect and chief implementer” of a number of unjust and biased policies and procedures that deliberately disregard facts.

“Even if the evidence ultimately were to demonstrate that Oberlin College was not negligent in appointing/hiring Raimondo in her role as Vice President and Dean of Students, the College was certainly negligent in supervising and retaining her once in that position,” the response said.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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