Brooks summoned to court
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Bill Brooks was summoned to Belmont County Western Division Court, having been charged with criminal trespassing and disturbing a lawful meeting after he was escorted from the May 15 council meeting and public hearing for a zoning change.
Brooks will appear in court June 1 before Judge Eric Costine for his initial arraignment. Both charges are misdemeanors of the fourth degree.
Brooks had been banned from attending council meetings following several altercations with city leaders. When council members observed him in attendance during the May 15 meeting and hearing, council President Jim Velas called a five-minute recess and asked Brooks to leave. A police officer escorted him out. Brooks left without incident.
Brooks is a former candidate for mayor and city council. He has spoken out about proposed policies and public affairs, such as opposing a potential levy for the St. Clairsville-Richland City Schools District several years ago that was voted down since numerous residents viewed it as excessive. He also opposed a plan from the prior city administration to sell the city’s water treatment system. The current administration has been pursuing a course of purchasing water from Belmont County and repairing the aging waterlines.
Brooks and current city leaders have often clashed in heated arguments during meetings.
Velas has said the ban will continue at least until these charges are resolved, adding that there is also pending legal action over a private protection order on one of the council members.
Brooks was contacted after the May 15 meeting and criticized the process, saying Velas unilaterally imposed the ban about two months ago without an investigation, hearing or vote. Brooks said he believed his rights were being violated. He added that he is considering a lawsuit against the city.
Brooks admitted that he had called Councilwoman Terra Butler a pejorative term, but he denied making rude or intimidating expressions toward council members, adding that there are cameras running during meetings. Brooks also denied calling Councilwoman Kristi Lipscomb a pejorative term.
“They made up whatever they said I did,” he said. “The only thing I did, I called Terra Butler a harlot. I was being kind to just call her a harlot. … It would be stupid to sit there and blow kisses or give the bird to somebody on council when any one of them could be looking in your direction.”