XENIA — A former Ohio House candidate pleaded not guilty to extortion and coercion July 20 in Greene County Common Pleas Court.
A grand jury recently charged Jocelyn Smith, 36, of Fairborn, with the third-degree felony and second-degree misdemeanor.
Magistrate Margaret Young released Smith on her own recognizance, in which she agreed to appear at further court proceedings.
In the May 8 Republican primary, Smith took a shot at unseating State Rep. Rick Perales from his spot in Ohio’s 73rd District. Perales defeated his opponent 80 percent to 19 percent on election night.
The campaign turned dramatic quickly when an alleged relationship between the two became public.
Smith alleged that in January 2015 Perales kissed and choked her while they were together in his Jeep after a meeting in a restaurant. Perales repeatedly denied they ever had any kind of physical contact but admitted he had taken part in inappropriate texting.
In March, Smith sent a letter to then-Speaker Clifford Rosenberger, asking the Ohio House of Representatives to investigate the allegations against Perales, which included exchanging sex for legislation. Rosenberger responded via letter in April, stating that if the allegations were true that she should contact law enforcement officials. Smith said she would follow the speaker’s recommendation. Rosenberger later resigned while facing an FBI investigation.
In April, Perales filed a complaint with Fairborn Police Department stating Smith was extorting him through her allegations and her insistence that he step down from his elected position and drop out of the race.
At the time, Greene County Prosecutor Stephen K. Haller asked Madison County Prosecutor Stephan J. Pronai to review the evidence in the case and decide how the case would move forward because of Perales’ connection to Greene County as a former commissioner.
Court records indicate Judge Timothy S. Hogan is assigned to the case, as well as a special prosecutor.
Attorney Ben Swift, who is representing Smith, said a crime has “absolutely not” been committed and called the charge “baseless.”
“Apparently things were said during a political campaign … for some reason Perales is choosing to go the court route. I believe this is an abusive process of the judiciary and a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Swift said. “I think it is an absolutely vindictive prosecution. I think you have to question the motivation of the alleged victim in this case.”
Perales was not present at the hearing.
A pre-trial is set for Friday, Aug. 17 in Greene County. However, Smith said whether the case will be tried there or in a different county will be determined in the coming weeks.