Varnaus face contempt motion in local court

A motion for contempt of court sanctions has been filed in Brown County Common Pleas Court against former Coroner Dr. Judith Varnau and her husband Dennis.
Attorney John Phillips is asking Judge Scott Gusweiler to order the Varnau’s to pay the attorney fees of his client and asks for “further sanctions as will deliver the message to the Varnaus that the Orders of this Court are to be obeyed.”
The contempt motion was originally filed with the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals, but that court ruled on March 27 that the question would be decided by Gusweiler.
The motion comes because of recent internet posts to youtube and to the message forum Topix by Dennis Varnau that claim that BCSO inmate Zachary Goldson did not hang himself in October of 2013 in the county jail.
As a result of the internet activity of Varnau, Phillips also filed a defamation lawsuit in Brown County on February 28 on behalf of five current or former BCSO employees.
Gusweiler recently refused to issue a temporary injunction against internet activity by Dennis Varnau in the case, citing Varnau’s right of free speech as a private citizen.
A defamation lawsuit against the Varnaus by Phillips and his clients is also pending in federal court.
Goldson died in his cell and his death was ruled a homicide by Dr. Varnau, who was Coroner at the time.
In August of 2014, a grand jury ruled that there was no evidence that Goldson was murdered and his death was considered a suicide by investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Following the grand jury decision, the Varnau’s continued to pursue the case until the five deputies filed a lawsuit in January of 2015 to stop the investigation activity.
Gusweiler ruled in September of 2016 that the investigative activity of the Varnau’s must stop.
In that decision, Gusweiler wrote in part that “By continuing to conduct an inquest after having already determined the mode, manner and cause of death, the Coroner exceeds her statutory authority and exacerbates the loss of the Goldson family needlessly.  Therefore, the Court hereby permanently enjoins (forbids) the Defendant Brown County Coroner from issuing or enforcing any subpoenas that concern the death of Zachary Goldson.  She is further enjoined from engaging in any activity whatsoever concerning the mode, manner and cause of death of Zachary Goldson.”
The March 29 contempt motion by Phillips calls the activity of Varnau a “blatant violation” of Gusweiler’s order.
Phillips also writes, “The Varnaus cannot control themselves, and continue to conduct an inquest into the death of Zachary Goldson under the guise of the authority of the coroner’s office…the Varnaus have taken it upon themselves to continue investigating and publicizing the results of their latest inquest into the death of Zachary Goldson.  They also continue to hold themselves out as the experts on the death of Zachary Goldson, as if under the authority of the office of Brown County Coroner.”
The term of office for Dr. Varnau expired on January 1 of this year.
Regarding Goldson, Dennis Varnau wrote a  post on youtube dated March 2 which read; “Nevertheless, she will always remain the Coroner for Zachary Goldson’s interests in death, no matter how much future personal effort and perseverance may be required.”
Phillips also writes in the motion that Varnau is accusing his clients of perjury when they have testified before Gusweiler as the case has played out.
The motion concludes with Phillips writing, “The Court could not have been more clear that the activities of the Varnaus must stop.  The harm to Plaintiffs of being falsely accused of murdering an inmate has been felt continuously for years now.  Plaintiffs have been, and continue to be, called murderers my the inmates and other members of the public.  Plaintiffs are repeatedly asked whether Plaintiffs were going to kill another inmate.  This harm is irreparable.  The contempt of the Defendants for this Court is undeniable…An appropriate sanction is requested in a form and severity to deliver to the Varnaus that their contemptuous behavior must end.”
Dr. Varnau has been previously found in contempt of court by Brown County Magistrate W. Kenneth Zuk for violating a temporary order Gusweiler issued in the case in April of 2015.
Following that ruling, the Varnau’s were found by Zuk to have engaged in investigation activity in violation of Gusweiler’s order  and ordered to pay the Plaintiff’s attorney fees as a result.
In October of 2015, Zuk wrote, “This is the second time that the terms of the Court’s Temporary Injunction have been ignored by the Defendant Coroner…Defendant Varnau is cautioned that any further violation of the Court’s Temporary Injunction may result in sanction far in excess of Attorney’s fees.”