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PowerPoint to porn: Rep. is shocked

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 11:56 AM

All State Rep. Matt Barrett was trying to do was explain to a group of Norwalk High School seniors how a bill becomes law.

When the image from the PowerPoint presentation popped up, Barrett could not believe his eyes; the image of a naked woman had appeared on the screen. He quickly unplugged the system.

"It took a second to realize 'Wow what's going on here,'" Barrett said. "I immediately apologized."

Barrett, a Democrat who covers the 58th district, which includes all of Huron County, didn't stop there.

School officials called the Norwalk Police Department, which notified the state Highway Patrol because Barrett is a state representative. Barrett said he voluntarily handed the computer over to troopers, who are sending it to Columbus to determine what might have happened.

Barrett stressed nobody was subpoenaed and no warrants were issued. He said he voluntarily handed over the computer because he wanted to find out what happened.

"We're trying to do everything to try to get this wrapped up," Barrett said, calling the image "totally inappropriate."

Principal Bob Duncan described Barrett as apologetic and embarrassed about the incident. Duncan called the incident regrettable and unfortunate.

"I think he was as surprised, if not more (so), than the students. He was extremely embarrassed," Duncan said. "Mr. Barrett was extremely cooperative in (this) matter."

Duncan and Norwalk City Schools Superintendent Wayne Babcanec said Barrett didn't check the thumb drive, obtained through a state agency, before Tuesday morning's incident.

Barrett said he has given a similar presentation about a bill becoming law about 30 times, but this was the first time he did it as a PowerPoint. He saw the equipment for a PowerPoint was available in the classroom, so he decided to use it.

First, he placed the thumb drive into his laptop, but the screen went blank. Barrett said the same thing happened when he hooked his laptop to the school's projector. Finally, he tried the teacher's laptop.

"And then the very inappropriate image displayed," Barrett said.

The state lawmaker said he got the thumb drive from a state library liaison, who gave an identical one to his legislative aide, Jennifer Koperdak. Barrett believes Koperdak had nothing to do with the inappropriate image.

"I would be shocked (if she did). I'm confident that she doesn't have anything to do with this," he said.

Babcanec spoke to Barrett after he finished his presentation to Derek Pigman's three senior social studies classes without the use of the computer. The state lawmaker used the papers he brought him that were to be supplemented by the PowerPoint.

"My daughter was in the class," Duncan said. "She felt very bad for Mr. Barrett. She thought it was unintentional.

"I heard it was very quiet," the principal said about students' reactions to the image. "Some kids didn't even see it."

Duncan said his daughter was more concerned about Barrett being embarrassed than the three seconds the picture was on the screen.

After the incident, Duncan contacted a majority of the parents. "Some of them are returning my calls, because they were working (Tuesday)," he added.

Babcanec said it was important to contact parents as soon as possible, so they could hear about the incident from school officials instead of through the media.

"Most of the parents have been appreciate of being contacted," he added.

The superintendent called it imperative to have future guest speakers' information previewed before they do a presentation. He said that process now will be more difficult because teachers earlier only had to review paper materials.

"We'll be looking at flash drives and computer discs," Babcanec said, saying Barrett has been cooperative with the school and police since the incident.

"I haven't heard anything from the authorities. Once they got involved, they took over the investigation," Babcanec said.

The memory stick, along with a school computer used Tuesday, were taken into custody and were being examined, said patrol spokesman Lt. Tony Bradshaw.

Barrett said authorities inspected his computer, the teacher's and took statement from most of class members. He said he's "very concerned" about what happened.

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