April 20, 2014

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Nancy Smith’s daughter charged with assault

LORAIN — For years, Lorain resident Amber Bronish has been trying to exonerate her mother, Nancy Smith, who was convicted in the 1994 Head Start child molestation case.

Bronish

Bronish now has her own troubles with the law. Bronish, 33, of the 1300 block of Ashland Avenue, was arrested Sunday and charged with assault and burglary after a neighbor said Bronish punched her in the face after previously entering her home without her permission.

Aimee McLaughlin said Bronish entered her home in the 1300 block of West 14th Street around 6:40 p.m. Sunday and threatened McLaughlin and her husband, David Wilson, according to a police report.

McLaughlin said after they screamed for Bronish to leave, Bronish slammed the front screen door on her way out shattering the glass. As McLaughlin and Wilson cleaned up the glass, they said Bronish returned with her husband and five other men.

“Amber decided when I stepped outside to hit me in my face,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said she went inside her house and returned brandishing an unloaded shotgun which got Bronish and the men to leave, the report said. Police said witness Dytanya Donnell, who was in McLaughlin’s home, verified her account. Bronish admitted after being arrested to entering McLaughlin’s home without her permission, according to the police report.

“That’s not at all how it happened,” Bronish said when reached by phone Monday.

Bronish said a mutual friend suggested Bronish give McLaughlin and Wilson leftover chicken Bronish had cooked. Bronish said she was invited in, but Wilson became angry shortly after Bronish entered.

Bronish said Wilson followed her onto the porch and slammed the door breaking the glass. Bronish said Wilson held her against her will on the porch and McLaughlin attacked her.

“I don’t know if she punched me or what, but I have bruises and scratches,” Bronish said. “I had to jump over the railing.”

Bronish said she gathered 1,700 signatures last month for a petition for clemency to Gov. John Kasich and that McLaughlin and Wilson were among those to sign it.

Bronish previously secretly taped phone calls with Police Chief Cel Rivera that were leaked last year. In the calls, Rivera, who was chief of detectives when the case was investigated, expressed doubt about the conviction of Smith and Joseph Allen, who were Head Start workers. Critics of the investigation say it heavily relied on the testimony of young children eager to please police and prosecutors and came during a period of questionable child sex abuse cases around the nation.

One of the children who accused Smith has recanted and at least one co-worker said she wasn’t allowed to testify on Smith’s behalf. The Ohio Parole Board is expected to make a recommendation to Kasich on parole for Smith in the next several months.

Bronish, scheduled to appear in Lorain Municipal Court today, said she doesn’t think this incident will detract from efforts to gain clemency for her mother. “It’s apples and oranges,” she said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.