A woman says she faces a political prosecution because she slapped the son of a Newport city councilman.
She said the boy directed vulgar language toward her.
“Of all the kids I have to have an encounter with, it’s some city official’s kid and now they’re making a political issue out of it,” Wanda Wilson lamented.
The 46-year-old Dalkena-area woman pleaded innocent Wednesday to a charge of fourth-degree assault, and said she plans to hire an attorney and seek a jury trial.
Wilson is accused of slapping 14-year-old Josh Kolthoff, son of City Councilman Jim Kolthoff, several times and burning him on the neck with his own cigarette on Feb. 10.
The incident occurred just three days after angry downtown business owners demanded that the City Council take action against bands of youths they said were vandalizing their buildings and harassing their customers.
Councilman Kolthoff said the council is addressing the business owners’ concerns, and Wilson’s conduct deserves prosecution.
“Josh is basically a good kid and, even if there was some misunderstanding, I don’t think the actions taken were sufficient to warrant her action,” Kolthoff said. “There’s absolutely nothing political about this on my part.”
City Attorney Mark Hanley said he excused himself from the case to avoid the appearance of a conflict.
A mother of three and grandmother of five, Wilson said she thinks no one should be subjected to the kind of language Josh Kolthoff used.
“I would have woken up wondering if lightning had hit anybody else if my father had caught me talking to anyone that way,” Wilson said.
She said Kolthoff’s son directed a sexually vulgar comment at her when she walked past him and two of his friends on Main Street.
She said she ignored him at first, but he spat on the sidewalk in front of her and flicked cigarette ashes at her when she returned from mailing a letter. At that point, Wilson said, she challenged Kolthoff about his language and, “yes, I went over and snatched him up and slapped him.”
But she denies deliberately burning the boy with his cigarette. Wilson said Kolthoff’s cigarette fell out of his mouth when she slapped him and it landed in the folds of his hooded sweat shirt. She said he was burned by accident when she pulled him forward to slap him again.
Kolthoff himself told police that Wilson grabbed his cigarette and “threw it away.” It was one of Kolthoff’s friends who said she deliberately burned him.
Deputy Pend Oreille County Prosecutor Diane Blumel said “it doesn’t seem to be disputed” that Kolthoff and his friends were using obscene language, but only among themselves. Blumel called Wilson “a danger to the community” and noted there were allegations she had been drinking.
District Court Judge Chuck Baechler granted Blumel’s request to order Wilson not to visit taverns or bars. Baechler also ordered Wilson not to contact Josh Kolthoff, but denied Blumel’s request to include the boy’s father in the protection order.
Wilson protested the restrictions as unnecessary. She said she had no alcohol before the altercation and hasn’t been charged with any alcoholrelated offense.
No trial date was set.
Meanwhile, the City Council has scheduled a public hearing March 14 on a proposed youth curfew and a meeting March 16 for people who want to help implement a citizen group’s plan to establish an ambitious recreation program. Both meetings will be at 7 p.m. in the fire station behind City Hall.