Sean FitzGerald, vice president and general counsel for Bowling Green State University, was placed on administrative leave Friday and his appointment with the state as assistant attorney general was suspended.
The action came from a contempt of court decision related to a divorce hearing.
“Bowling Green State University learned of the contempt of court decision and judgment against Sean FitzGerald this afternoon. Effective immediately, FitzGerald has been placed on administrative leave,” BGSU said in a statement Monday. “FitzGerald’s status with the university will be further evaluated following consultation with the attorney general’s office and the outcome of the university’s own investigation.”
Dave O’Neil, senior public information officer in the Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, referred to the statement from BGSU regarding FitzGerald’s appointment.
“As the university’s general counsel, FitzGerald also holds an appointment as an assistant attorney general for the State of Ohio. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has suspended that appointment.”
FitzGerald was set to begin a 30-day jail sentence Monday for contempt of court, related to a divorce hearing.
The court of appeals has since issued a stay of that order, pending appeal of the contempt order.
A statement issued by FitzGerald’s attorney said, “Mr. Fitzgerald denies he committed any contempt of court, and that issue will be vigorously contested on appeal.”
The 30-day sentence was imposed on April 4. A temporary seven-day stay on his own recognizance was issued and FitzGerald moved for a further stay pending the appeal of the sentence.
The April 4 court order decision and journal entry noted “Having reviewed all the conduct, evidence, exhibits, e-mails and testimony of the case, and particularly Mr. FitzGerald’s most recent pleading, the Court finds Mr. Fitzgerald in direct contempt pursuant to R.C. 2705.01.”
He was sentenced to 30 days in the Wood County Justice Center and ordered to pay all attorney fees associated with the last hearing and a $250 fine.
”The court finds that Mr. FitzGerald was untruthful,” the decision noted.
“Furthermore, his pleading violates Ohio Professional Conduct Rule 8.4 (c) and (d) and 3.3 and those matters are referred to disciplinary counsel. Given the rule violated, Mr. FitzGerald’s duty to the Court, his colleagues and the professions, the other aggravating circumstances, a 30 day jail sentence is appropriate.”
It was noted in FitzGerald’s appeal, in the 6th District Court of Appeals, that “FitzGerald alleges he would probably lose his employment as a result of serving jail time, and that his children would be irreparably harmed if he were to serve his sentence because of his absence and the resulting loss of income.”