The judge in the case backed down and released the father from jail.
Butler County, Ohio father Brian Gegner was ordered to see to it that his adult daughter got her GED, but she was unable to do so. In an incredible abuse of judicial authority, the father was jailed on a six month sentence, only to be released if the daughter got her GED. Working with Sacramento legislative representative Michael Robinson, we called upon our supporters to call both the judge in the case and the Governor of Ohio to demand Gegner’s immediate release.
On May 9, 2008 WCPO TV in Cincinnati reported:
"A Fairfield man is in jail because his daughter hasn’t gotten her General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
"A judge ordered the father to stay on top of his daughter’s education months ago and when that order wasn’t followed, Brian Gegner was sentenced to 180-days in the Butler County jail.
"The daughter, Brittany Gegner, says her father shouldn’t be punished for her problems.
"Especially, she says because she’s now 18, an adult.
"‘It’s ridiculously wrong,’ said Brittany Gegner...
"Butler County Juvenile Court Judge David Niehaus ordered Gegner to jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor by not following a court order which required Gegner to be sure his daughter got her GED.
"This comes after ongoing problems of Brittany skipping classes at Fairfield High School and then, Butler Tech.
"While Brian Gegner had custody of her, Brittany says it was while she lived with her mother that she was truant.
"‘I’m about to be 19 and my Dad’s being punished for something I did when I was 16,’ she said.
"‘It’s like I should, if anybody should be punished for this,’ said Brittany. ‘I would way rather me go to jail than my Dad.’
"‘They probably should have punished me if they were going to punish anybody,’ said Brittany’s mother Shana Roach. ‘Because she did live with me at the time, but because he had the custody, that’s why he’s being punished.’
"‘But I don’t understand the punishment all together because she’s going to school, she’s been going for four months,’ said Roach. ‘The only thing that’s holding her back is she can’t pass her math test.’"
Both Michael Robinson and Ohio WCPO TV reporter Deb Silverman investigated the Gegner family, and Robinson says "both parents are clean, they simply were unable to get their daughter to stay in school."
Robinson notes that this sad chain of events was set off because the parents did the right thing—they were concerned about their daughter’s truancy, acknowledged that they were not able to control her, and called the police for help. I would also add that this is an example of two divorced parents working together to try to help their child.
Apparently Judge David J. Niehaus—who threw Gegner in jail—has a history of draconian acts. He was specifically accused of judicial abuse by Butler County Commissioner Mike Fox in his 2003 report A Culture of Secrecy, Fear and Judicial Abuse.