Judge Orders Rozanski to Stay Away from McCanick; Rozanski Admits ‘I Bit Him’ in Election Day Nose Attack
A District Court judge on Monday ordered Walter Rozanski, who admitted biting a political foe on the nose during an Election Day argument, to stay away from the victim and said that independent witnesses backed up the victim’s account of the incident.
Judge Floyd L. Parks ruled that Rozanski’s actions amounted to an assault under the law and that the victim, Harold McCanick, was blameless in the attack. “Credible witnesses,” the judge said, “absolve Mr. McCanick of any wrongdoing here.” The Judge rejected a cross-complaint filed by Rozanski against McCanick.
Instead, the judge imposed a “peace order” against Rozanski, who also faces separate criminal assault charges in the incident, and ordered him to stay away from McCanick’s home and jobsites and to have no verbal, phone or written contact with the victim until 11/30/13. The judge said the evidence met the current legal standards requiring “clear and convincing” evidence against Rozanski in a peace order case.
The record of the District Court hearing, and the judge’s findings, can be used in the upcoming criminal case. (Both men have filed assault charges against each other, with court dates set for later this summer.) That could include Rozanski’s confession on the witness stand Monday that he bit McCanick’s nose, but saying he did so because he was “scared.”
Judge Parks doubted Rozanski’s contention that he “had his head back” at the time of the incident and McCanick was “in his face.” There was “clearly an intent to bite,” the judge declared, and that it was “physically not possible” to have bitten the victim if the assailant had pulled back from a physical confrontation.
The Election Day incident, which occurred outside the Elk Neck Elementary School polling place, has received widespread media attention throughout the state and some national news outlets. And the case of the nose bite heard ‘round the political world–especially Rozanski’s contention in court papers that the bite victim “put his nose in my mouth”– has drawn much social media commentary including ridicule of Cecil County and its residents.
McCanick, who was represented at the court hearing by lawyer Findlay McCool, testified that he was stationed in one spot that morning waving a sign and handing out flyers for his candidacy for a seat on the local Republican Central Committee. (McCanick lost his election bid.) He said Rozanski walked past him and the two began an argument over what McCanick said was Rozanski’s improper placement of a picture of McCanick’s wife on a Facebook political posting.
“In a very offensive posture, he asked me ‘what are you going to do about it’,” McCanick said. Then Rozanski lunged at him and bit him on the nose, McCanick said, adding that his arms were at his side, holding his campaign materials, and he never raised a hand toward Rozanski.
Two independent witnesses testified that Rozanski lunged toward McCanick, who pulled back from the attack.
Keith Meisner of Elkton testified that he saw Rozanski lean forward and at first “I thought it was a head bump.” He said he ran toward the men, “to try to break it up; I thought it was going to be a full blown fist fight.” But McCanick “stepped back” from Rozanski and put his hands “up to his face, to cover his nose.”
But then, he said he saw Rozanski “putting his hands up to a fighting position.”
Chris Ann Szep, an executive at Cecil College, testified that she did not see the actual bite but she saw “the back of Rozanski’s head” as he suddenly lunged forward while McCanick “moved backward.” She said after the incident, Rozanski admitted to her that he had bitten McCanick.
Another witness, Diane Carabetta, was called by Rozanski’s lawyer, Harry Barnes. She said she did not see the bite incident and that Rozanski “had his back to me” when she heard a loud argument and the two men were “incredibly close” to each other. She claimed that “Harold was leaning into Walt and Walt was trying to get away.” She said she then heard a “yelp” and McCanick “jumped back” away from Rozanski.
McCool questioned Carabetta about her political support of County Councilor Diana Broomell (R-4)—whose campaign tee shirt was being worn by Rozanski as he worked the polling places on behalf of Broomell’s campaign. (Broomell lost her re-election bid in the GOP primary election.) Rozanski has been one of Broomell’s staunchest political supporters while McCanick has been a frequent critic of Broomell.
“How I vote is my business,” Carabetta declared. She said she was at the polling place to support her own candidacy for a seat on the GOP Central Committee. (She did win a seat in the primary election.) During Broomell’s past political campaigns, including an unsuccessful campaign for County Executive, Carabetta and her husband were among the most visible Broomell supporters, often appearing with her to wave campaign signs by the side of roadways.
Taking the witness stand, Rozanski said that McCanick “hollered at me” and “he got on my person.” Rozanski said he told McCanick “get away from me” but then McCanick “put his nose in my mouth and I was scared to death.”
Rozanski claimed that McCanick said “I’m going to beat you” and then “I bit him.” After the attack, Rozanski said he “backed away” while McCanick told him, “You’re going to have to watch your back for the rest of your life.”
“I was scared and I bit him,” Rozanski said. “I had to defend myself.”
In his ruling, the judge noted that “clearly these people had issues…political ones or otherwise” but “that wouldn’t be an excuse to bite someone.”
If Rozanski felt scared, “the first thing you do is push him away; you don’t bite him,” the judge added.