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Ohio School Therapist Who Brought ‘Children Cry Out for Justice’ Sign to Mike Pence’s Desk Pleads Guilty to Jan. 6-Related Felony

Christine Priola

Christine Priola

An Ohio woman spotted carrying a sign with the blaring red message “THE CHILDREN CRY OUT FOR JUSTICE” at then-Vice President Mike Pence‘s desk pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a felony count of obstructing an official proceeding on Jan. 6, 2021.

The day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Christine Priola gave her employer a glimpse into the thinking that went into that placard in a resignation letter.

“I will be switching paths to expose the global evil of human trafficking and pedophilia, including in our government and children’s services agencies,” Priola, now 50, declared in a resignation letter dated Jan. 7, 2021, which was obtained by Cleveland-based news outlet WKYC.

Priola previously worked for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District as an occupational therapist. That was before she hopped on a chartered bus from her home in Willoughby, Ohio, on Jan. 6, which arrived in Washington, D.C. later that day.

According to her signed statement, Priola entered the Capitol through the East Rotunda doors, before making her way to the Senate and entering the restricted floor area. Authorities say she was there for roughly 10 minutes, where she was photographed holding the placard in the spot where Pence had planned to certify Joe Biden’s victory that afternoon.

On the flipside of Priola’s placard, unseen in the picture, was the message “WE THE PEOPLE TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY.” She wore tights with the Donald Trump campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

“She also made a number of telephone calls, including one to an associate who was outside the building,” her signed statement of offense reads. “Priola told this associate that she believed she was in the Senate and that he needed to come inside. Priola took photographs and videos inside the chamber using her cell phone.”

Priola acknowledged telling another associate that she had been pepper sprayed.

At some point between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12, 2021, Priola deleted her cell phone data for photos, videos, chats and messages from two days before until one day after the attack. She pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding. Prosecutors calculated her federal sentencing guidelines between 15 and 21 months in prison, but a federal judge can sentence her above or below that range.

The statutory maximum sentence is 20 years imprisonment.

Priola’s case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, a Barack Obama appointee who handed down a stiff sentence of more than five years imprisonment on Tuesday in an unrelated Jan. 6-related assault case. That sentence, for D.C. man Mark K. Ponder, was higher than what prosecutors sought.

Court papers in Priola’s case do not mention QAnon, a conspiracy theory positing the existence of a child-eating cabal of pedophiles and Satanists in government opposing Trump. But the QAnon movement has been widely linked as a motivation for many rioters on Jan. 6.

Shortly after the attack on the Capitol, local reporters in Ohio spotted Priola wearing a white shirt with the handwritten message “Save Our Children,” associated with the QAnon movement. The TV station WOIO quoted her telling reporters: “Look into the pedophilia. This world is run on the blood of innocent children. Please. Look into it.”

Read Priola’s statement of offense here:

[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."