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Judge Orders Rozanski to Stay Away from McCanick; Rozanski Admits ‘I Bit Him’ in Election Day Nose Attack

June 30, 2014
By Nancy Schwerzler

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.

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11 Responses to Judge Orders Rozanski to Stay Away from McCanick; Rozanski Admits ‘I Bit Him’ in Election Day Nose Attack

  1. Joe C on June 30, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Whether people support a certain candidate or not are not germane to the issue at hand and are only a “Red Herring”. Neither Councilor Broomell, nor either of the Carabetta’s had anything to do with the incident. It was just pure luck that Diane Carabetta just happened to be present during this unfortunate situation and was called as a witness by subpoena. Quite frankly I am surprised that Cecil Times lowered its standards to sink to such yellow journalism.

    • Mike R on July 1, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Joe C – shame on you. It is not “yellow journalism” to report the facts of the case and the lawyer, Mr. McCool’s questioins about support of Broomell. Does that embarrass you that some folks in Cecil County will go to any extreme to get their name and a candidates name into the discussion? It doesn’t surprise me at all, but again I’m certain you disagree with that statement as well. Broomell and her minions are a total disgrace and they make Cecil County the laughing stock of this State. Can’t wait till December 2014.

    • Bob Laird on July 1, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Joe C – first, NOT trying to stir you up on this, OK? Just want to talk about this with you because I don’t understand your reaction.

      There are three “newsworthy” matters that were brought up by this incident:
      1. The assault itself.
      2. The back history between Walt and Harold.
      3. The political relationships of Walt and Harold (in other words, why were either of them on site that day).

      This article is coverage of the court proceeding and how all three of those matters were intertwined. As a reader with no knowledge of the matter – which CT has to assume for every article – it is appropriate to share who the witnesses were and, more importantly, how the court and its officers (the attorneys in this instance) chose to address them.

      I wasn’t in the courtroom. Was Mr. Meisner identified in any fashion regarding why he was at ENES (who he was supporting)? Same for Mrs. Szep? In other words, did any of the attorneys comment on that as they appear to have done for your wife?

      If not, then the article is correctly written. If, however, they were asked similar questions – the author is singling out your wife and sensationalizing your ties to Mrs. Broomell.

      What are your thoughts?

  2. Joe C on July 1, 2014 at 6:00 am

    For the record, we did sign wave one time with Councilor Broomell during her run for county executive, however the same day we attended a fund raiser for Councilor Robert Hodge. The same fund raiser were a party well known to Mr. Hodge closed a heavy wooden door on my wife’s arm, injuring her. We also helped Mr. Hodge put up campaign signs and donated three times as much to him as we did Councilor Broomell. Yes, we are active in Republican activities, but biting is not one of them!

  3. Jackie Gregory on July 1, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Cecil Times merely accurately reported what was said in the courtroom during the course of the hearing. I agree that the political alliances of the individuals involved are irrelevant to the assault, and was amazed at the number of times Broomell’s name was brought into the discussion initially, and several times after, by Rozanski’s attorney.

    • Joe C on July 1, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      Bob/Mike R,
      You somewhat missed my point! What I took objection to is the article bringing in some past political activity and trying somehow to relate it to this unfortunate situation. Furthermore it was not accurate or complete and detracted from an otherwise well written news report. The past activity had nothing to do with the current action and only attempted to create some sort of side story that was not there. I appreciate that the CT is willing to post differing views.

      • Bob Laird on July 3, 2014 at 8:48 am

        So, this one line is what takes you to “yellow journalism”?

        “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.”

        Interesting. OK.

    • Joe C on July 1, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Jackie,
      From what I was told there was no testimony about whether we signed waved with Diana Broomell in past campaigns. You are correct, totally irrelevant to the matter at hand, which was my point in the first place. If there was I would be surprised if the judge would have allowed it. It appears that Mr. McCool opened the door about political relationships, at which point the opposing attorney should have objected on relevancy grounds.

      • Jackie Gregory on July 3, 2014 at 8:08 am

        Joe,
        From my recollection, Mr. McCool did not initiate the discussion about political relationships in the courtroom. In fact, his line of questioning was very straightforward regarding the incident. I only remember hearing McCool bring it up once, and it was only after the issue had already been raised several times by Rozanski’s attorney.

  4. Harold McCanick on July 3, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Dear Mr.Laird, Mr.Meisner was at the polling place to vote.I t was coincidence he saw the assault. To his credit he did not look the other way. Also to his credit he took the time to tell the court what he saw.

    • Bob Laird on July 3, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Thanks for clarifying. Hope you are doing OK in all of this.

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