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Gonzaga legend John Stockton writes letter supporting woman who pleaded guilty to Jan. 6 charges

May 19, 2022 Updated Thu., May 19, 2022 at 8:51 p.m.

Gonzaga’s John Stockton speaks to the media during a news conference, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. Stockton was one of eight people inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday.  (Associated Press)
Gonzaga’s John Stockton speaks to the media during a news conference, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. Stockton was one of eight people inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday. (Associated Press)

John Stockton, the former Gonzaga standout and NBA Hall of Famer who’s made headlines over the past year for his anti-vaccine position and failure to comply with local mask mandates, has penned a letter of support for a Utah woman who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021.

Stockton’s letter, first obtained by FOX13 News in Salt Lake City, was written in support of Janet Buhler, who was arrested in Salt Lake City on July 30, 2021, after being initially charged with five misdemeanor counts. Buhler could face up to six months in prison after agreeing to plead guilty in January to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing inside a capitol building.

The relationship between Stockton and Buhler dates back approximately 17 years. Buhler married a team chiropractor for the Utah Jazz who Stockton characterizes as “one of my closest friends.”

“Janet Buhler is one of the kindest people I have ever known,” Stockton wrote in the letter. “She has spent a lifetime helping her family, including her husband, care for their patients. She goes to church regularly, volunteers at the homeless shelter, and teaches music endlessly, piano and violin, to children in her own home.”

Buhler’s stepson-in-law Michael Lee Hardin, a Salt Lake City police officer, is still facing multiple charges, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Buhler is hoping to avoid jail time, multiple outlets have reported.

In his letter, Stockton also wrote, “I frankly cannot imagine that Janet could knowingly break the law, nor be involved in anything destructive, ever, no matter the situation. In my opinion, Janet Buhler is a quality person of high character.”

A Spokane resident and the NBA’s all-time assists leader, Stockton went viral nearly one year ago when he appeared in an anti-vaccine documentary titled, “COVID and the Vaccine: Truth, Lies and Misconceptions Revealed.” Stockton also voiced his support for NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving, whose refusal to take the vaccine and comply with regional mandates forced him to miss a handful of games for the Brooklyn Nets.

In January, Stockton confirmed to The Spokesman-Review that Gonzaga had suspended his season tickets after the 60-year-old failed to comply with a university mandate requiring fans to wear masks while attending home athletic events.

In a Q&A, Stockton reiterated his anti-vaccine stance to The S-R while making false statements about COVID-19 vaccines, such as claiming, “I think it’s highly recorded now, there’s 150 I believe now – it’s over 100 professional athletes dead, professional athletes, the prime of their life, dropping dead that are vaccinated, right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court.” His statement was subsequently fact-checked by Politifact, run by the Poynter Institute, and factcheck.org, a project of the the Annenberg Public Policy Center; neither found any evidence to support Stockton’s claim.

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