Harassment charge against county commissioner dismissed

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Charges of harassment were dismissed in Rutherford County General Sessions Court Monday against a current Cannon County Commissioner.

Judge Ben Bennett dismissed the charge filed against Corey Davenport, who currently serves as Cannon County Commissioner Second District.

The charge of harassment was filed by Cannon County resident Rick Shaner, who ran unsuccessful for a Third District commission seat last August.

The preliminary hearing was supposed to be heard Jan. 4 in Cannon County General Sessions Court but Judge Bennett, who was assigned the case after Cannon County General Sessions Court Judge Susan Melton recused herself, was ill and couldn't make it. The case was reset to Monday's date as both parties agreed it would be fine to hold in in Rutherford County as a convenience to all parties and their lawyers.

Shaner alleged back in December that Davenport consistently sent him text messages on his personal cell phone after being told not to.

Shaner is the operator of a Facebook page "Fix Cannon County TN Govt" which he uses to comment on individuals and criticize county and Town of Woodbury government.

During testimony, Shaner told the court after he and his wife moved to Cannon County, he got involved in county government when a next door neighbor informed him about ongoings in the county.

He met Davenport around September 2017 at a Cannon County Republican Party meeting.

Shaner told the court around May 2018, things began to fall apart within the group and especially between he and Davenport when Davenport reportedly told Shaner he did not like his tone after Shaner requested a screenshot of a post concerning Davenport and members of his family that was posted elsewhere on social media. Davenport denied the request because of the nature of the post.

Shaner produced copies of the various text messages between the two after the time Shaner told Davenport to quit texting him. Dates on those text messages were May 17, and 21, June 20 and in December before Shaner filed the harassment charge.

After being asked why he didn't just simply block Davenport on his cell phone, Shaner responded, "I am technically inept and if I blocked him I would lose all the previous text messages he sent me." Shaner than added, "I don't feel it's my responsibility to prevent him from breaking the law."

After turning over the copies of the text messages to the court to enter as evidence, Davenport's attorney, Nathan Luna then got his opportunity to cross examine the plaintiff.

During cross-examination it was revealed the five times the two exchanged text messages over a seven-month period it was simply to address the allegations and information Shaner placed on his Facebook page about Davenport, one of which concerned an allegation Davenport paid the voters of the Second District to vote for him in the August 2018 election. It was also pointed out even though Shaner told Davenport to quit texting him, there was no court order, and no restraining order in effect.

Luna also showed a history of Shaner trying to get people in trouble for harassment. He produced two different police reports from January 2017 and August 2017 where Shaner had filed police reports against another person, Shaner consistently debates on his Facebook page, former Cannon County resident Jim Gibbs.

Shaner also mentioned in June 2018, he called the Cannon County Sheriff's Department to file a restraining order against Davenport, but the deputy at that time after filing a report told Shaner he would talk to Devenport and get him to stop. Shaner was satisfied at the time of that action.

Later during testimony, Davenport stated he was never contacted by the sheriff's department concerning any type of restraining order or told by the sheriff's department to cease texting Shaner.

Luna also alleged Shaner filing harassment charges was simply an attempt to make a government figure look bad in the public eye when in fact there was nothing threatening about the text messages that Davenport had sent.

According to TCA Code 39-17-308, Article II, which this particular case falls under, harassment is defined as placing one or more telephone calls (or text) anonymously or at an hour or hours known to be inconvenient to the victim or in an offensively repetitious manner, or without legitimate purpose of communication and by this action knowingly annoys or alarms the recipient.

Shaner testified Davenport's texts never alarmed him but that they were annoying. Davenport countered during his testimony the texts were never threatening but that he was simply trying to get Shaner to stop posting stuff that was untrue about him.

Davenport could not respond directly on the Fix Cannon County Govt. page as he was blocked several months back.

After the judge dismissed the charges, Luna said the plans are now to file a defamation and malicious prosecution lawsuit against Shaner.

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