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Freedom Of Speech Only Goes So Far, Be Careful Of What You Say

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By CHARLES WILSON, Associated Press Charles Wilson, Associated Press – Sat Jan 15, 5:07 pm ET


INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana woman who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress last year was being held Saturday on charges she made threats against judges and other officials on her Facebook account.


Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega — who said he was among those targeted — said he decided to move quickly after discovering the threats in part due to last week's shootings in Arizona that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others.


"I think the Arizona situation drove more to the sense of urgency," Sonnega told The Associated Press.


Cheryl Allen, 51, of Martinsville was being held on $100,000 bond Saturday in a jail in her hometown, about 28 miles south of Indianapolis. State police arrested her on eight felony counts of intimidation on Thursday, the same day authorities discovered the postings, which were apparently published on her page three days earlier.


Allen repeatedly maintained her innocence during a court hearing Friday. But after the charges were read, she said: "Someday, may someone get even with them," according to The Reporter-Times. She could face four to 24 years in prison if convicted, state police said.


The alleged threats mentioned four Morgan County judges, and other public officials — including Sonnega — were mentioned by first name. Media reports said Allen had previously filed a discrimination lawsuit that was dismissed by a judge.


"One day I will have my revenge on your seeking so much revenge on me," read one of the posts cited in media reports.


"Someday Boooooom while your setting in your offices," read a second. "And you know I won't even be the one pulling the trigger," said another.


A message seeking comment was left with Allen's attorney on Saturday, and her home phone number was disconnected.


Sonnega told the AP authorities had been monitoring Allen for months due to comments she had made about various public officials, but she hadn't "crossed the line" until this week. He said he contacted state police and appointed a special prosecutor, Barry Brown, after discovering the alleged threats.


"In light of what happened in Arizona ... we thought we had better act quickly," Sonnega said.


Brown was traveling and could not be reached for comment Saturday. The Reporter-Times said Brown said in court that authorities intend to have Allen's mental health evaluated.


Allen ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for Indiana's 4th Congressional District seat in 2010, winning just 3 percent of the vote. The seat that was vacated by U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer was eventually won by new U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita.


Allen had criticized the courts' handling of her discrimination case during her campaign last year and suggested the system needed a major overhaul, according to The Reporter-Times. In a Facebook post on Jan. 8, the newspaper said she wrote: "What do you need to have done to get all the current government out of office? That is why we should own guns to go into court to get my right to trial back."

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