Voters in Greenbrier County will have the chance to vote for the county sheriff in the upcoming primary election.
There are two choices on the ballot, incumbent Bruce Sloan (D), or Mark Robinson (R). Sloan was appointed as interim sheriff in 2016 and has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement, a topic he discussed during the Apr. 11 Meet the Candidates forum at Greenbrier Valley Theatre. Robinson declined to participate in the event, and any candidate event held since then, including the opening of the Greenbrier County Republican Headquarters.
Little is known about Robinson, as he hasn’t produced any campaign signs or other advertising material, and has declined to attend political events. His campaign strategy has, so far, consisted of a door-to-door campaign where he sells listeners a flyer for 25 cents detailing why he has chosen to run for sheriff. The headline on the flyer states, “Judge Sanders Grants to Wife Divorce & Kids; Man Arrested, Jailed, Barred from His House.” It goes on to say that this event led Robinson to run for sheriff in order to “expose the family court.”
In his story, Robinson lays out details about his divorce from his wife, claiming that she “embellished her story with claims of domestic violence,” which led to her getting full custody of the couple’s six children. He claims the older children have been turned against him, and that he is “not allowed” to see any of the children. He specifies that “no claims of child abuse were ever leveled against Mr. Robinson,” but fails to mention in the flyer the active restraining orders that he violated at that time.
According to documents filed in the circuit court of Greenbrier County, on Sept. 30, 2016, Robinson attempted to appeal a protective order that had been issued against him by his wife. The documents state that the finding of the fact were as follows:
The Family Court of Greenbrier County issued an Emergency Protective Order on Aug. 26, 2016, and ordered that it remain in place until the Sept. 7, 2016, hearing.
The Family Court also issued a Domestic Violence Protective Order on Sept. 7, 2016, and ordered that it remain in place until Mar. 6, 2017. The Family Court made a specific finding that Petitioner (Robinson’s ex-wife) had proven the allegations of domestic violence or abuse by a preponderance of the evidence and was entitled to be awarded a protective order per WV Code §48-5-509 and §48-5-608.
As a factual basis for its Order, the Family Court found that “The Respondent (Robinson) admitted to the facts of the incident as described by petitioner (Robinson’s ex-wife).”
Due to the order, the court then issued that Robinson abide by certain conditions, including the following: refraining from contacting, telephoning, communicating with, harassing, or verbally abusing Petitioner, and refraining from entering any school, business, or place of employment of Petitioner or other person named herein for the purpose of violating the order. Among these restrictions, it says that Robinson shall not be within 100 yards of the Petitioner.
On Sept. 16, 2016, after the order was filed, Robinson attempted to appeal it. He stated that he had additional evidence, that evidence was withheld, witnesses, that the order is excessive and punitive, and that the order for visitation was not obeyed.
However, during the hearing, witnesses who had not testified at the Family Court proceeding offered no evidence that any findings of fact made by the Family Court Judge were clearly erroneous.
Ultimately, the court found that, “there was no dispute of facts by the parties and only a difference of perception as to whether said facts were sufficient to grant a Domestic Violence Protective Order,” and the appeal was denied.
Robinson states in his door-to-door flyer that he “was indeed arrested in September of 2017, one year after the divorce was initiated,” due to “mailing nice letters” to his children. He fails to mention any restraining order. Robinson also purchased a fixer-upper house across from the school his wife worked at and his children attended. According to family court Judge David Sanders, he was not allowed to be at the house whenever his wife and children were present at the school. Robinson claimed that his wife was “using harmless letters as a pretext” to lead to his incarceration. He was housed in Southern Regional Jail for three days.
In Robinson’s flyer, he lists what changes he hopes to make if elected as sheriff, including “the sheriff’s department will not enforce any orders issued by the Family Court Judge David Sanders,” to “use all the power of his office to encourage married couples to stay married,” and “any lawyers who have participated in flagrantly unjust outcome in the Family Court will be listed as unfit to practice law.” If elected to office while the subject of an active Domestic Violence Protective Order, Robinson would be unable to possess a firearm or any ammunition, as it would be a violation of both state and federal law.
In more recent events, Robinson was arraigned on Oct. 24 in Greenbrier County Circuit Court for violation a Domestic Violence Protective Order issued from Augusta County, VA. The order states that Robinson waived extradition and is prohibited from leaving the state. More details will be available as the new case progresses.