HAMMOND — A Lake County jury was unable to reach a verdict Thursday in a misdemeanor invasion of privacy trial involving a Highland man who unsuccessfully ran this year for the Indiana House.
Court records show the six-member jury deliberated more than five hours over the fate of Brandon Dothager before Lake Superior Judge Aleksandra Dimitrijevic declared a hung jury.
A status hearing for a potential retrial is scheduled for Dec. 16 at the County Division 4 courtroom in Hammond.
Dothager was accused of indirectly attempting to annoy and harass a Highland woman who obtained a protection order against Dothager in January after he allegedly harassed her by telephone, text message and through the mail, according to court records.
Highland police claimed Dothager ran afoul of that protection order in March by posting on Facebook screenshots of names and images associated with the woman and her family, in response to negative comments on a Dothager Facebook post linking to a news article referencing the protection order.
Police records show there was no direct contact between Dothager and the woman. Nevertheless, Lake County prosecutors claimed Dothager's behavior violated the protection order.
Dothager's attorney, Jesse Harper of Valparaiso, said all along Dothager just wanted his day in court to challenge the accusations.
"We felt that the state crossed the line in charging him with invasion of privacy, which is essentially a violation of that protection order, given the fact that he was a political candidate at the time, newspapers had written articles about the protection order, and he was out there trying to set the record straight," Harper said.
Harper also said it was "pretty impressive" to see a jury deliberate five hours over a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
"They took it extremely seriously, and, at the end of the day, they just couldn't decide one way or the other," Harper said.
Dothager placed second out of three candidates in the June 2 Democratic primary for House District 12.