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Barrett, wife blame son

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:16 PM

Police reports made public Monday showed that both former state Rep. Matt Barrett and his wife blamed their oldest son, then 12, for pornographic images on a thumb drive Barrett used in a talk at Norwalk High School in October.

Barrett, 41, resigned at the request of Democratic officials after state Highway Patrol officers concluded Barrett lied when he blamed his son for pictures the representative was responsible for putting on the thumb drive.

The pictures were shown for a few seconds when Barrett was speaking to a class at Norwalk High. When Barrett realized the pornographic pictures were on the PowerPoint he was using, he stopped the presentation and just spoke to the class.

In his original statement to state Highway Patrol officials, Barrett said the PowerPoint had been developed by the National Conference of State Legislators and "had been tailored with my name and contact information, but otherwise unchanged."

Derek Pigman, the teacher who had invited Barrett to speak to his classes to explain the legislative process, did not see the pictures because he was walking to the back of the classroom when they were displayed.

"I did not find out until two class periods later what had happened behind my back when the principal called me out of my class to inform me," Pigman wrote in his statement about the incident. "During this time, Mr. Barrett informed me he had contacted his office to try to figure out what had happened."

When Barrett spoke to Norwalk police on the day of the incident, he originally refused to let police record the interview, but later relented and allowed police to make a recording.

Barrett told police his son may have put the pornographic pictures on the thumb drive or someone in his state office might be responsible. Barrett also said someone might be trying to sabotage him.

Barrett later said in the recorded interview that he didn't have any reason to believe "anybody would try to sabotage me."

Barrett also told police he thought Pigman had seen the pictures and wasn't trying to avoid the issue when he stopped the PowerPoint.

"I think it was a miscommunication, Barrett said. "I was thinking, I was shocked and thought the whole world saw this. I was thinking he had seen it too."

When Wendy Barrett spoke to police, she said she was confident her husband had nothing to do with the pornographic pictures. She told police her son admitted to her that he had looked at pictures of naked women and she had caught him doing so.

Barrett's son spoke to Norwalk police in the presence of his parents and said he was responsible for downloading the photos, but his father refused to let him say what Web site he had used to find the pictures.

Barrett told Highway Patrol officers he had never seen the pictures before. Officers later discovered he had set up an account in 2003 in the name of "John Doe" that was registered through his law office and two women had sent pictures taken from camera phones to that e-mail and to his office in Columbus.

Both women identified in the photos said Barrett asked them to send nude pictures to his e-mail accounts.

Norwalk police traveled to Amherst, Barrett's hometown, to interview one of the women. She said she had met Barrett through mutual friends and had sent nude pictures to him a couple of years before. She also sent pictures to an e-mail account he had in Columbus.

The woman said it originally started as a joke and she had called Barrett after she was informed police were waiting to interview her. She said Barrett told her he had no idea why police wanted to talk to her.

The other woman in the photos came to Norwalk to speak with police. She told police she had helped Barrett on his campaign and said they had a relationship until she met her current husband. She said she was going through a divorce when she first met Barrett and he was a "very smooth-talking person."

She also told police she "found it disgusting" that Barrett blamed the pictures on his young son. Police asked her to make a phone call to Barrett and allow police to record it, but Barrett did not answer his phone when she attempted three phone calls.

When Norwalk police attempted to question Barrett after meeting with the two women identified in the photos, he "seemed flustered at the call. He stuttered and stammered about having a busy schedule this week," the report said.

After that call, Barrett had an attorney representing him contact police.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler referred potential charges to the Erie County prosecutor, but an assistant prosecutor there said no felony had been committed and Barrett could only be charged with potential misdemeanors of obstructing official business or falsification. That office later decided to press no charges against the former legislator.

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