News & Politics

Kentucky Prosecutor Vows to Hold Culprits Accountable for Threatening Covington Catholic Teens

Kentucky Prosecutor Vows to Hold Culprits Accountable for Threatening Covington Catholic Teens
Students arrive at Covington Catholic High School as classes resume following a closing due to security concerns the previous day, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Park Hills, Ky. Local police authorities controlled access to the property at entrances and exits. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The investigations could take weeks or months, but Kenton County prosecutor Rob Sanders wants the culprits who made terroristic threats against Covington Catholic High School students held accountable. Sanders said Wednesday that his office has already issued grand jury subpoenas and is working on search warrants for detectives in other agencies.

The school was closed on Tuesday due to security concerns and reopened on Wednesday under close police supervision.

The students were accused of mocking Native American activist Nathan Phillips outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., after the March for Life on Friday, spurring a frenzy that resulted in threats coming from across the country by phone, email, and social media.

According to Fox19, “some of the social media threats to the school and students have been extreme. One person called to burn the school down and fire on the MAGA hat-wearing students on sight.”

And on Wednesday afternoon, authorities responded to a report of a suspicious package outside the Diocese of Covington’s Madison Avenue chancery. After police cleared the scene, investigators said they would continue to evaluate the threat. The package, which came in the mail, had nothing explosive inside, according to authorities.

“A lot of people are reaching out to us saying, ‘Why hasn’t anyone been arrested yet?’ It’s not a quick process,” Sanders explained.

He said he has over a dozen threats that he finds associated with a credible person and their intention to do the school or its students harm.

“I am confident that before this is all over some people are going to be held accountable for what they said,” he said.

During an appearance on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle Wednesday night, Sanders said the criminal offense that would apply in these cases would be “terroristic threat in the second degree.”

“That’s anytime someone threatens death or violence against an educational institution in Kentucky or any student in the educational institution in connection with the school function. That is a Class D felony, ” Sanders explained. “It’s one to five years in the state penitentiary — that could rise to five to ten years in a class C felony if the person threatens that violence or death in connection to an educational institution and the use of a device of mass destruction or weapon of mass destruction.”

Sanders noted that because most of the threats have been appearing on social media, the situation is “more complicated.”

“There’s a number of misdemeanors that could apply in a lot of these cases, but we can’t reach across state lines and extradite,” he explained, noting that the violators would have to come back to Kentucky before they could ever arrest them.

“But when it comes to the offenses that rise to the felony level, we can extradite,” he said.

Meanwhile, Robert Barnes, the lawyer representing the Covington Catholic High School kids, has given reporters, celebrities and anyone else with large media platforms who smeared the students with falsehoods until Friday to correct the record, or get sued.

Sanders explained that that’s easier said than done when it comes to going after people on Twitter because half the time abusers use fake names and fake profile pictures.

“We have to go through a process of issuing subpoenas, search warrants,” he said. Ingraham interjected to ask if his office plans to do any of that.

“It’s already underway,” Sanders said. “I’ve had detectives in and out of my office all day today. We were starting with some comments — some threats that were made in-state because those are people that we don’t even have to extradite, and we’re moving on then to the ones that are out of state. We’ve had the detective that works in my office has already been busy issuing grand jury subpoenas and composing search warrants for detectives in other agencies.”

“You gotta get these people,” Ingraham exclaimed. “This has to happen,” she added,  because unless people are properly punished, “someone’s gonna get hurt and I fear … someone’s gonna get killed.”