This was my last story for Scene as a staff reporter. After it was approved by the editor and publisher, it was spiked by the CEO, who, like Coughlin, is a Republican. I told him he didn’t know how to run a paper (among other things) and was fired. I then sued for wrongful termination. I’m sharing it now, as Coughlin considers a run for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, currently held by a Democrat.
‘I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE’
After 12 years in the legislature, Kevin Coughlin faces a criminal probe and allegations of extra-marital affairs.
By James Renner
Another accusation, not involving allegations of criminal behavior but potentially more damaging to his reputation, involves an extramarital affair. Sources say that during the summer of 2004, perhaps longer, he carried on a relationship with a younger woman. At the time she was a 24-year-old employee of the University of Akron, an attractive brunette who had worked on Coughlin’s campaign for State Senate. He was the 34-year-old, married, handsome rising star of the Summit County GOP — smart and ambitious, but also prone to blowing off campaign appointments to spend time with his girlfriend.
I am currently at work, researching my next book, which will be about a death that occurred when I was a counselor at Seven Ranges Boy Scout Reservation, in 1995. It’s also about the current state of the Boy Scouts of America, which is fighting to get out of bankruptcy after a sex scandal that is exponentially greater in scale than that of the Catholic Church.
Part of my book involves a secret society within Seven Ranges called Pipestone. If you took part in the “honors program” there and would like to share your experience, please email me: jameswrenner [at] gmail [dot] com
My next true crime book Little, Crazy Children comes out June 27 but you can reserve your copy today, by pre-ordering from your favorite local bookstore or online at the links below.
In this riveting work of investigative journalism, the author of True Crime Addict and host of “True Crime This Week,” James Renner, explores the tragic unsolved 1990 murder of Lisa Pruett in the privileged enclave of Shaker Heights, Ohio, its troubling aftershocks, and the dark secrets teens tell—and keep.
TWIN PEAKS meets THE CRUCIBLE in 1990s Shaker Heights, the setting of LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE.
In September of 1990, in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, sixteen-year-old Lisa Pruett, a poetry lover and member of a church youth group, was on her way to a midnight tryst with her boyfriend, when she was viciously stabbed to death only thirty feet from the boy’s home.
The murder cast a palpable gloom over the upscale community and sparked accusations, theories, and rumors among Lisa’s friends and peers. Together they wove a damning narrative that circled back to a likely suspect: “weird” high school outcast Kevin Young. Without a shred of evidence the teen was arrested, charged, and tried for the crime. His eventual acquittal didn’t squelch the anger and outrage among those who believed that Kevin got away with murder.
With a fresh perspective and painstaking research culled from police files, court records, transcripts, uncollected evidence, and new interviews, James Renner reconstructs the events leading up to and following that heartbreaking night. What emerges is a portrait of a community seething with dark undercurrents—its single-minded authorities, protective status-conscious parents, and the deeply peer-pressured teens within Lisa’s circle.
Who had the capacity for such unchecked violence? What monsters still lurk in the dark? After more than thirty years, questions like these continue to fester among the community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, still deeply scarred by wounds that remain hidden, unspoken, and unhealed.
How cool is this!?! The Porchlight Project is featured in the new edition of Kent State Magazine.
Renner put out a message on Facebook asking for help; it was answered by Alexa Doutt, a director of advancement at Kent State. The two met at a coffee shop in West Akron—and the idea of the Porchlight Project was born.