ELYRIA — An arrest warrant has been issued for a mother the Ohio Supreme Court ordered released from Lorain County Jail in September after she failed to appear for a sentencing hearing Friday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court.
Lindsey Eberhardt, of Avon Lake, was set to appear before Domestic Relations Judge Frank Janik on Friday morning.
In September, Eberhardt was found in contempt of court after she refused to follow a court order to allow Melva and Scott Sherwood visitation with Eberhardt’s two children on the second weekend of each month and permitting the Sherwoods to have makeup visitations for months missed. Melva Sherwood is the paternal grandmother of Eberhardt’s two children.
On Sept. 21, Eberhardt told Janik she was refusing to follow the order and she was sentenced to 30 days in Lorain County Jail. On Sept. 27, the Ohio Supreme Court, in an order signed by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, ordered that Eberhardt be released from jail after Eberhardt’s attorney, Jonathan Rosenbaum, filed a writ of habeas corpus. Eberhardt served six days of her 30-day sentence.
On Nov. 28, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed the habeas corpus and denied Eberhardt’s motion for bond and request for alternative writs, which allowed Janik to once again sentence Eberhardt to jail for contempt.
As a result, on Dec. 3, Janik set a sentencing hearing date for Friday. Last week, Rosenbaum filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and a request for a temporary restraining order with the U.S. District Court in Cleveland in an attempt to prevent Janik from proceeding with the sentencing hearing.
On Thursday, Northern District of Ohio Judge Christopher Boyko denied the request for a temporary restraining order, allowing Janik to proceed.
When the hearing began, though, Eberhardt wasn’t there. Rosenbaum was in the courtroom and when Janik asked where his client was, Rosenbaum said, “I do not know.”
Janik then asked if Rosenbaum had made his client aware of the sentencing hearing.
“I can only say I believe she was,” Rosenbaum said. “I can say that I appreciate my responsibility to the court and have lived up to it.”
Janik issued a warrant for Eberhardt’s arrest. He said that once the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office has taken her into custody, he will schedule a new sentencing hearing date.
The ruling is the latest chapter in a custody battle that has raged since 2010 between Eberhardt and the Sherwoods and has included an attorney appointed by the court as guardian ad litem becoming romantically involved with Eberhardt, accusations of the grandmother examining the feces of the children and private investigators being hired to watch the other side, according to court documents.
Initially, the Sherwoods had been granted visitation rights for Eberhardt’s two children for one weekend a month. The Sherwoods are the mother and stepfather of Eberhardt’s late husband, Andrew Weaver.
Over the years, the two sides battled and accusations flew from both sides.
The Sherwoods believed Eberhardt was not providing the children with the proper nourishment and Melva Sherwood allegedly began weighing the children without clothes and also allegedly would not allow the children to flush the toilet so she could examine their feces, according to court documents.
Eberhardt also was accused of being in a romantic relationship with James Barilla — the attorney the court had appointed as guardian ad litem, which is a person chosen to look into what solutions would be in the “best interests of the children.”
Eberhardt wanted the Sherwoods’ visitation rights terminated, and a trial was held on the matter in which Janik ruled in favor of the Sherwoods but gave stipulations on the visits regarding Melva Sherwood not weighing the children, examining their feces and so on.
Sometime later, though, Eberhardt began canceling the visitations with the Sherwoods, which caused the grandparents to petition the court to force the matter. The court ordered Eberhardt to allow the grandparents their visitation, but she refused.