According to some people, it’s very important that you know that Drew Hastings and Bob Lambert are friends, because to know that is to help you on your road to embracing the concept of guilt by association, which is the road we’re all apparently supposed to travel.
Why is it important? Because so far, the general public hasn’t gotten too excited about the charges against Drew Hastings, which really makes some people upset. But if they can connect Drew to an obscenity case involving a minor, well, maybe they can turn public opinion a little more against him. Guilt by association is a popular game in politics, and sometimes in the media.
Maybe we should be consistent and start dragging everyone’s friends into every story we do about people who get arrested or charged with a crime. That would be fair, right? Or perhaps it’s only fair when Drew Hastings is involved.
Didn’t Bob Lambert encourage Drew Hastings to move here in the first place? Good question. Every time someone is charged with a crime, we should delve into how they got here. Were they born here? Or did someone encourage them to move here? Aha! Who are their friends? Who are their relatives? Who were they seen having coffee with last week? Who was with them when they were arrested? It’s all pertinent information, right?
Someday, if I keep trying, I too can become everyone’s judge and jury. I’m not there yet. In the meantime, there are those who apparently have already reached that vaunted plateau. When Judgment Day comes and God wants to take a break, they feel entirely qualified to step right in and keep the line moving.
I keep getting hung up on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, but really, that makes me an anomaly. No, don’t worry, that’s not something where anyone needs to shout, “Hey, we need to run those anomalies outta town!” But it does mean different.
I’m not going to break my promise not to write columns about the Hastings case until it’s resolved in court. But I can write about the “let’s connect Hastings to Lambert” campaign, and the Lambert case itself.
As much as I and many others have questioned the politics behind the Hastings investigation (and the politics in this case doesn’t mean Republican vs. Democrat, by the way), the Lambert investigation and subsequent arrest are not cut from the same cloth.
The investigating officer in the Lambert case for the Hillsboro Police Department is Shawn Kelley. Shawn is as fine an officer as you will find. This arrest happened because a concerned family member had come forward, which apparently led to an interview with a 16-year-old boy, which caused enough concern to initiate a search warrant.
Thankfully, the evidence in the Lambert case wasn’t taken to a group of citizens for the purpose of filing a civil suit. Instead, the county prosecutor, Anneka Collins, was informed of the situation around 3:30 a.m. last Tuesday. Bob Lambert had publicly stated on social media that he was relocating to Florida, so officials believed they needed to act quickly if they were going to make an arrest.
After Bob was arrested last Tuesday, the Hillsboro Police Department issued a press release. That press release led off by stating that way back in October of 2014, the sheriff’s office and HPD had both received complaints about “inappropriate sexual acts” allegedly involving Bob Lambert. “Inappropriate” seems to have been a carefully chosen word, as opposed to “illegal” or “criminal.” Still, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called in, the press release said.
In fact, the October 2014 complaints had nothing to do with Bob Lambert’s arrest, and that was confirmed for me on Friday by Anneka. Plus, an affidavit filed in municipal court last week clearly states that the alleged activity for which Bob Lambert was arrested happened in or around June of 2016, not October of 2014, or anytime in 2015, or any other time prior to the middle of 2016.
Under Ohio law – even though anyone under 18 is considered a minor – the legal age of consent for sex is 16. Except for teachers or others in positions of authority, it is legal to have consensual sex with someone 16 and older. So far, Bob Lambert is not charged with having illegal sex with anyone.
But what he is charged with is bad enough. The law also says that it’s a felony to create or possess a nude, lewd or obscene photo or video of that same 16-year-old girl or boy. The charges in this case are pandering obscenity involving a minor and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.
For anyone who might judge the current allegations – and, under the guilt by association game, Drew Hastings – even more harshly because they allegedly involve males, it’s interesting to recall that during the 2015 general election campaign, after the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in all 50 states, Drew Hastings was the only candidate for mayor who said he opposed the idea of gay marriage.
In fact, Drew’s attitudes toward same-sex relationships can safely be called conservative, and he has not been shy about expressing them, which has often strained his friendship with his gay friends. The same is true for many conservatives who have acquaintances who are gay.
One church leader I spoke with last week brought up the Lambert case and said that the allegations represent a sickness that should be prayed for. I agree with that. But in our society they’re also a crime, and it is being properly investigated. We’ll see how the evidence unfolds.
But every bit as shameful as the details within these allegations is the effort by some to attach them to Drew Hastings. The only thing more deplorable than doing that is admitting to being a friend of someone who would do that. Isn’t that how guilt by association works?
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.