Monday, August 18, 2014

Community activist James Box sentenced to three years probation, supporters at sentencing include Councilman Jeff Johnson, Yvonne Pointer, Reverend C.J. Matthews, Retired NFL player Reggie Rucker, and community activists Art McKoy and the Reverend Pam Pinkney-Butts

Community Activist James Box
By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper and Newspaper Blog Kathy Wray Coleman is  a community activist and 20 year investigative journalist who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio. ( / (

CLEVELAND, Ohio- Community activist James Box was sentenced to probation by Common Pleas Judge John Sutula on Monday morning following a plea deal he took in a criminal case involving inappropriate contact with two women. He had originally pleaded not guilty.

Box, 53, was in court with his lawyer Richard Drucker and was sentenced to 90 days of in-house electronic monitoring, 200 hours of community service, a $1500 fine, mental health counseling, and 36 months of supervised probation.

He spoke briefly at sentencing, and showed remorse.

"I'm sorry," Box told the court before apologizing to the two women victims, both also in court.

He also apologized to his supporters. 

A Cuyahoga County Grand Jury in March indicted Box on several charges, including attempted rape of the two women, kidnapping, attempted sexual battery, gross sexual imposition and soliciting one of the two women, both participants in a now defunct Cleveland Municipal Court diversion program run by NFL football great and former Cleveland Browns football player Jim Brown, who was his supervisor. 

Box worked part time in the court program, and full time as a city of Cleveland community relations liaison, a job he resigned from last week. He took a plea deal last month where the prosecution dropped all sex related charges and left attempted abduction and misdemeanor assault and unlawful restraint. He initially faced up to life in prison but, per the plea deal, faced probation and up to 18 months in prison.

Among those that spoke in support of the longtime community activist were Reggie Rucker, Cleveland Ward 10 Councilman Jeff Johnson, Cleveland City Community Relations Liaison Yvonne Pointer, who is also a woman's advocate, and the Rev C.J. Matthews, pastor of Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Cleveland.

Mathews himself served nearly 15 months  in a federal prison for tax evasion. 

 Pointer told Sutula that while she does not support violence against women, she believed that court supervised probation instead of prison was appropriate.

Johnson, Mathews and Rucker, a retired Cleveland Browns football player and sports talk show host who said that he has known Box for 25 years, echoed that sentiment. 

Community activists at the sentencing  include Art McKoy, and 
the Rev Pamela Pinkney-Butts.

Married but currently separated from his wife, Box also had family support at his sentencing, including a brother, and some of his children. 

Some community activists were upset over the life specifications associated with the charges and said they were malicious and an indication that Cuyahoga County  Prosecutor Tim McGinty, who is White, is targeting  Black men and community activists with unnecessary and costly prosecutions.

One victim, according to news reports, said she invited Box into her apartment on Cleveland's east side after he helped to fix her car. Thereafter, he allegedly tried to kiss  her, allegedly showed his penis, and then left after she objected. Box told Cleveland Urban News.Com that none of it is true and that the prosecution was politically motivated.

Public records show that the county prosecutor's office had no DNA evidence and Box's lawyer, whom Jim Brown hired, told Cleveland Urban News.Com before Monday's sentencing that there were no witnesses to the two separate incidents that occurred in 2011. 

"They had no DNA or witnesses," said Drucker, a Cleveland criminal defense attorney.
( / (