ELYRIA — The paternal grandmother of 3-year-old Jesse Crum Jr., who died in March 2010, obtained a civil stalking protection order against Jesse’s mother on Monday after accusing Alyson Sweany of leaving her harassing texts and voicemail messages.
The protection order obtained by Christina Crum also covers her son, Jesse Crum Sr.
Sweany is currently awaiting sentencing for her role in the younger Jesse’s death after pleading guilty in March to three counts of endangering children. She took the plea after being told prosecutors intended to ask a county grand jury to indict her for involuntary manslaughter.
A helicopter took Jesse to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland on March 12, 2010, and he died a few days later. An autopsy determined he died of blunt force head trauma, brain hemorrhages and pneumonia.
Sweany and her supporters have said Jesse was injured a few days before he was taken to the hospital when a bookcase he was climbing toppled and several items, including a laptop computer, fell and hit the boy in the head. Jesse appeared fine for several days, they have said.
Christina Crum and others, however, contend that Jesse was physically abused by Sweany’s then-boyfriend, Peter Jones, and she ignored the abuse. Jones hanged himself in June 2010 while he was awaiting sentencing on endangering children charges for a January 2009 incident in which Jesse was scalded while Jones was giving the boy a bath.
Jones’ parents, Dallas and Therese Jones, have pleaded guilty to endangering children and drug charges for marijuana that police found growing in their Amherst home while searching for evidence of how Jesse was injured. The pair are due in court Friday for sentencing.
Sweany, who had been scheduled to appear in court Friday for sentencing, may be considering trying to withdraw her guilty plea, however. But first she needs to find an attorney.
Her first attorney, John Chambers of Fairview Park, has had his law license suspended for failing to properly represent another client and for an assault conviction. The lawyer who replaced him, Stourton Scott Smith, withdrew from the case during a hearing Monday because of his friendship with Chambers.
Smith said he didn’t know whether Sweany would actually try to withdraw her plea, but it would put him in an awkward position if she did.
He said he knew nothing about allegations that Sweany was harassing the Crum family because it wasn’t brought up by prosecutors during Monday’s hearing before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said that his office had been gathering information about Christina Crum’s accusations and had planned to either ask Miraldi to bar Sweany from having any contact with the Crums on Friday or help her prepare a request for a civil stalking protection order. He said the request wasn’t made Monday in part because Sweany doesn’t currently have a lawyer.
Instead, Christina Crum sought the protection order on her own — something she said prosecutors told her to do until Miraldi had a chance to review it. The case ended up on the docket of Magistrate James Blaszak, who said he believed her complaints would have been better addressed by Miraldi, but he would err on the side of caution and grant a temporary protection order.
During the hearing, Christina Crum read several text messages she said Sweany sent earlier this month urging her to help another Crum family member. Christina Crum also played two profanity-laced voicemails she said Sweany left for her several months ago.
“I see no reason for her to even look my way, let alone call my phone,” Christina Crum said after the hearing.
Miraldi said he was unaware of that harassment might be a concern in the case.
“I’ll keep an open mind and consider the issue this Friday when we have a status conference,” Miraldi said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.