Local Rewind


Fidget spinner world record broken and serial rapist sentenced during summer in Athens

Maddie Capron / News Editor

From burritos and fidget spinner world records, to city council meetings and arrests, here’s what happened in Athens since Spring Semester ended.

Serial rapist arrested, sentenced

Shawn J. Lawson, Jr., 26, pleaded guilty to 11 counts related to serial rape and sexual assault in the Athens County Court of Common Pleas in June, according to a previous Post report. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison for serial rape. The arrest of Lawson followed an investigation by multiple state and local agencies that lasted more than 10 years.

sexual assault

Eric Walker | FILE

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn speaks about the arrest of Shawn Lawson for serial sexual assault at a press conference at the Athens County Courthouse on Tuesday.


In January 2016, Lawson’s DNA was linked to three sexual assaults in Athens that occurred in June 2006, June 2015 and December 2015, but his identity remained unknown. In May, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn credited Lawson's arrest to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s sexual assault examination kit testing initiative and the actions of local detectives.


“Lawson, Jr. will spend the next 40 … years of his life in prison, and hopefully, this will allow all of his victims time to heal,” Blackburn wrote in a release.

City council

Athens City Council passed several ordinances and resolutions this summer. One ordinance was to aggregate gas bills in the City of Athens with the hope of saving residents money, according to a previous Post report. The ordinance authorizes the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council to aggregate natural gas bills in the city.


Additionally, council passed a resolution that would allow the creation of a climate protection plan in response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, according to a previous Post report. Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, said the new plan would build on Athens’ current sustainability plan.


Council also discussed banning conversion therapy in the City of Athens, saying conversion therapy could lead to the harm of LGBT youth, according to a previous Post report.


“Studies and anecdotal therapies have clearly demonstrated that conversion therapy does not work and does harm, period,” delfin bautista, the director of OU’s LGBT Center who is a survivor of conversion therapy, said at the meeting.

Big Mamma's delivery

Not only did Big Mamma’s Burritos start delivering its burritos in mid-July, but it also brought along beer from the Beer Store. The Athens restaurant announced it would use a smart car to make deliveries after 6 p.m during the week and all day on weekends. Deliveries will continue until 3 a.m., according to a previous Post report.

Missing kayaker

In July, six kayakers were swept over the White’s Mill waterfall on the Hocking River. Five of those kayakers either were rescued by emergency responders or were able to escape from the water on their own, according to a previous Post report.


The body of a kayaker, Steve Lippson, 40, of Racine, was later found by an OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital employee on July 11 after a nearly three-day search.

Fidget spinner world record

At a Southern Ohio Copperheads game in July, the world record for the most people to simultaneously spin fidget spinners was broken. As the fifth inning came to an end, hundreds of people gathered behind the third base line for their chance to make history, according to a previous Post report. About 350 fidget spinners were given out at the game, and the world record was broken.

New ride share service

Liberty Mobility Now will offer transportation services to students and residents in Athens. The ride sharing service started in June, and Bret Whitaker, the southeast Ohio area manager for Liberty Mobile Now, said the service offers ride-sharing like Uber or Lyft but is different because it also provides Mobility-as-a-Service, according to a previous Post report.


“Liberty’s focus is on getting people with mobility needs where they need to go safely, no matter who gives the ride,” Whitaker said in a previous Post report. “The MaaS model we use is very conducive to partnerships and referring rides to whatever mode is most efficient at the time of need.”


Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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