Pictured are Community Activist James Box ( in Black turban) and 137 shots Cleveland police shooting victims Malissa Williams and Tim Russell
CLEVELAND, Ohio- Select greater Cleveland community activists leaders will meet at an open meeting at the Lil Africa/The Kitchen Restaurant and Event Center at 6816 Superior Avenue in Cleveland at 6 pm on Tuesday, July 29 to discuss community issues. The issues, say meeting organizers, include excessive force by Cleveland police and whether community activist James Box (pictured) is being railroaded relative to a pending criminal case involving two women.
Also briefly discussed will be illegal foreclosures, the epidemic of violence against women in Cuyahoga County, and whether the taking of Cleveland Ward 7 T.J. Dow's charter school and other actions around the school once dubbed the Dow Leadership Institute and now under a new name were proper and legal. (Call the Imperial Women Coalition at (216) 659-0473 for more information. Other groups represented at the meeting include Stop Targeting Ohio's Poor, the Carl Stokes Brigade and Black on Black Crime Inc, which will be represented by its vice president, Alfred Porter Jr.)
A longtime community activist Box, 53, is facing life in prison for allegedly attempting to rape two women, though the county prosecutor's office has no DNA evidence and his lawyer, Richard Drucker, told Cleveland Urban News.Com that the case is flimsy, that Box denies the allegations, there are no witnesses or DNA, and attempted rape, though serious if it occurs, is far different than rape.
In one case Channel 3 Investigative Reporter Tom Meyer reported that Box was allegedly invited into the alleged victim's apartment, something Box denies, and he tried to kiss her, allegedly showed her is private parts, and then left after she objected. The investigative article by Meyer, which was published before a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury issued a 10-count indictment in 2013 on a host of felony and misdemeanor charges, including alleged kidnapping and sex crimes, goes on to say that the woman at issue might want to file charges. She did just that and so did the other woman, one of them allegedly caught on tape, Box says, saying she was allegedly coerced into the ordeal.
Box took a plea deal last week where the prosecution dropped all sex related charges and left attempted abduction and misdemeanor assault and unlawful restraint. He faces up to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced next month before common pleas Judge John Sutula but told Cleveland Urban News.Com that he is withdrawing his plea because he was coerced into agreeing to it with a life sentence hanging over his head when he is innocent, and because prosecutors' have allegedly reneged on other parts of the plea deal.
Drucker told Cleveland Urban News.Com that his client can withdraw his plea anytime before sentencing with the court's approval.
The two separate incidents allegedly occurred in 2011.
Both women were participants in a Cleveland Municipal Court life skills program that employs football legend Jim Brown at the helm, and where Box, a community relations specialist for the city of Cleveland now on administrative leave without pay until the case is resolved, worked part time.
Box will attend the meeting at Lil Africa with his supporters and will speak briefly but not on the merits of the controversial case, which prosecutors, led by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty, waited two years to prosecute.
"We want to get to the bottom of this to insure that this Black male community activist has effective assistance of counsel and a fair judge and fair trial when facing life in prison," said Kathy Wray Coleman, who leads the grassroots group Imperial Women Coalition. "Also, since a Cleveland NAACP commissioned study shows that Black men are getting harsher sentences than their White counterparts in felony cases by the majority White common pleas judges of Cuyahoga County and the Cleveland NAACP and Black leaders are remaining silent on the matter , community activists must step up more."