Niles couple says neighbors moon, harass them

NILES — James and Mary Kauffman say they’ve had it.

The Kauffmans, of Smith Street, have been spending the past six or seven years keeping tidy the outside of Disciple of Jesus Fellowship Church on Williams Street.

They have been mowing the lawn and planting bushes and flowers.

Every evening, they walk from their home to the nearby church to turn on the lights. In the morning, they return to turn them off.

“The church lets us do it,” said 51-year-old Mary Kauffman.

Last Thursday night, they had to call the police again about a family that lives near the church.

It was about 7:30 p.m. when they walked down to the church to turn on the lights. As her husband opened the door and looked back, one of four or five people across the street delivered to him the ultimate digital insult.

One of them then dropped his pants to expose his back side, they told police.

The Kauffmans have taken their concerns to city Prosecutor Terry Swauger, who said that flipping off someone isn’t a crime.

“It’s poor taste, but not threatening. It’s rude,” Swauger noted.

As for mooning, Swauger said he’s going to have to research the law to determine if it falls under the category of indecent exposure or disturbing the peace.

In the meantime, Swauger said he suggested to the Kauffmans that they consider obtaining a civil protection order from Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. The Kauffmans said they are going to get copies of about 25 police reports they have filed in the past two years, in seeking court protection.

“We’re afraid for our safety,” Mrs. Kauffman asserted. “They keep harassing us.”

The Kauffmans, however, have been known to draw attention to themselves.

They painted their home red and Kauffman became know around the city as “Big Red” as he drove a red truck.

It’s the unusual color of their house that resulted in city council passing legislation in September 2005 that essentially stops homeowners from painting their houses unusual colors.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on

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