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Gibson's Bakery rests case v. Oberlin College

  • Gibson-s-trial-2-jpg

    David Gibson of Gibson's Bakery at Gibson's v Oberlin College trial at Lorain County Justice Center May 20. Gibson testified Thursday.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE FILE

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ELYRIA — After nearly two weeks of testimony, the attorneys for Gibson’s Bakery rested their case Thursday morning in the civil trial against Oberlin College.

The testimony wrapped up with the cross-examination of David Gibson, one of the owners of the bakery. Gibson’s testimony started Tuesday, and the case was not in court Wednesday.

Thursday was the 10th day of the civil trial between the two sides. Gibson’s sued the college and Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students of Oberlin College, for libel, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, intentional infliction of emotional distress and trespass in 2017. The bakery also is suing the college for negligent hiring, retention and supervision.

During cross-examination, Gibson was questioned on whether he’d been present when a flyer was passed out that encouraged people to boycott the bakery and alleged the bakery was a “racist establishment” with a “long history of racial profiling” or whether he was present when the student senate passed a resolution that also said the bakery had a history of racial profiling.

Gibson said he had not been present when either document was created, and he also said he could not say if Raimondo had any part in the creation of either document.

Gibson also was asked whether he had ever asked Raimondo what her opinion was about the information in the flyer or the student senate resolution, which he answered he had. When asked what Raimondo’s response was, Gibson said the dean of students told him she wanted “to put it behind them.”

The rift between the bakery and the college began in 2016 when a student tried to buy alcohol with a fake ID and shoplift from Allyn D. Gibson, who is the son of the bakery’s owner, David Gibson. Allyn D. Gibson followed the student out of the store, and the two got into a physical altercation.

Two other students got involved, and police have said when they arrived the three students were hitting Allyn D. Gibson while he was on the ground.

Allyn D. Gibson is white and the students are black, and the incident escalated. All three students pleaded guilty in August 2017 to misdemeanor charges and read statements into the record acknowledging that Allyn D. Gibson was within his right to detain the shoplifter and that his actions were not racially motivated.

In the two days following the shoplifting incident, Oberlin College students protested in front of the bakery and passed out flyers urging people to boycott the bakery because of the bakery’s history of racial profiling. Oberlin College stopped ordering from the bakery after the protests before resuming in January 2017.

The college once again ceased ordering from Gibson’s after the lawsuit was filed in November 2017.

On Tuesday, David Gibson testified that Raimondo and Oberlin College Chief of Staff Ferdinand Protzman each gave him their business card, with their personal cell phone numbers written on them, and asked him to call them, rather than the police, when an Oberlin College student was caught shoplifting at the bakery.

On Thursday, the attorney for the college tried to get David Gibson to admit he had been given the cards and phone numbers and told to call them “anytime with any questions” he had. David Gibson denied that and reiterated he had been given the cards to call the administrators of the college rather than police.

When attorney Ron Holman told him that Raimondo probably would take the stand next week and refute his testimony, David Gibson said he wouldn’t change his testimony.

The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning with Oberlin College beginning to present its case to the jury.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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