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  • Corey Murray

‘Cyber-bullying’ charges lodged against political activists dismissed

HILLSDALE — Criminal charges lodged against two political activists arrested in December on cyber-bullying allegations have been dismissed.

Kelley Lynn Mapes, 52, of Allen — who unsuccessfully challenged Hillsdale County Commissioner Mark Wiley in the Aug. 2 primary election — and Joseph Robert Hendee, 50, of Hillsdale, were each charged with unlawful posting of messages for information posted to a social media page about Donna Letcher, the alleged victim in the case.

The Hillsdale Daily News was unable to contact the Hillsdale County Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday for comment due to a widespread power outage affecting most of Hillsdale County.

Hendee’s attorney, Daren Wiseley, received word Feb. 14 the charges were dismissed and issued a statement to social media this week.

“It’s pathetic we even had to defend against this, but today is a victory for the First Amendment,” Wiseley stated.

In an earlier statement, Wiseley claimed Hendee and Mapes’ arrest was politically motivated.

Screenshots of social media posts shared by the duo were made available in a police report provided to the News through a FOIA request show that Letcher’s address was posted “to prove that she was a neighbor of Commissioner Mark Wiley” after Letcher authored a letter released on social media about Mapes.

Letcher, in her statement to police, said she had requested information from Mapes’ former employer through a FOIA request prior to the Aug. 2, 2022, election to clarify rumors she had heard regarding Mapes’ actions as an employee of the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency.

Letcher then authored a letter to the editor regarding Mapes’ employment and how that ended which was eventually shared to social media.

Shortly after Letcher’s letter was shared to social media, Mapes and Hendee began posting various tidbits of information about Letcher including her voter information and other information found online. Letcher went on to allege that directions to her home were posted and that she lived alone, causing her to fear for her safety.

“I feel Kelley and Joseph equally stated false information about me to get some of their followers to take action against me in whatever way they felt necessary,” Letcher stated. “Again, I do realize my information can be obtained in one way or another, however, to publicly address all of my personal information for people to see and act upon is unfair and considered doxing.”

Wiseley previously called the criminal case “the most ridiculous criminal prosecution I have ever seen.”

“The idea that Mr. Hendee’s facebook activity somehow rose to the level of criminal is laughably absurd,” Wiseley stated after Hendee turned himself in..”

Hillsdale County Prosecutor Neal Brady also released a statement to the News in a text message Dec. 19, when the charges were first made public.

“I have a widow who lives alone in the country and has lived in fear because of responses from unknown people acting on posts by them,” Brady stated. “They have no idea of how they hurt people with their keyboards.”

When asked about the perception of the arrest being politically motivated, Brady said “this is not about politics.”

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