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Lake Monroe incident won't go to trial; Purdy, Cox to finish restorative justice process

Vauhxx Booker video still

A screenshot of a July 4, 2020 video clip shows Sean Purdy (red shirt) holding Vauhxx Booker against a tree. (Vauhxx Booker)

Sean Purdy and Jerry Cox, accused of jumping Vauhxx Booker on July 4, 2020, will complete the restorative justice process aimed at settling the incident out of court.

If Purdy and Cox complete the process, the criminal confinement, battery and intimidation charges filed against them will be dropped, according to Sonia Leerkamp, the special prosecutor assigned to the case.

The agreement is similar to the one Booker entered in early December, which says if he completes the process, his battery and trespass charges also will be dropped.

It’ll be the second swing at restorative justice in the cases stemming from the incident at Lake Monroe after the initial attempt fell apart.

READ MORE: DNR releases details of Lake Monroe investigation, possible charges 

On July 5, 2020, former Bloomington activist Vauhxx Booker posted video clips on Faceboook of a confrontation between Booker and a group of white men at the lake. Booker described the situation as an attempted lynching, saying the men jumped him after he approached them to discuss their alleged racism.

The post led to criminal charges being filed against Purdy and Cox, who said Booker was the instigator, trespassing on private property before getting in their faces – and that Booker ended up against a tree as they tried to subdue him.

Lawyers for Purdy and Cox suggested trying restorative justice to resolve the issue. That process had not been used to resolve a criminal case in Indiana. It attempts to repair a crime’s harm by bringing those involved together to discuss a resolution, usually through a mediator.

As a proponent of restorative justice, Booker agreed. But in July 2021, he pulled out of the process, which was run by the Center for Community Justice in Elkhart. Booker said he couldn’t agree to a confidentiality agreement, having the charges against Purdy and Cox dropped, and making a joint statement with his alleged attackers about the process. That led to charges being filed against Booker, who decided to re-enter the restorative justice process in early December.

According to Leerkamp, the three men will be able to do the process separately this time, meaning it won’t end for everyone if someone decides to pull out. If an individual completes the process, all their charges will be dropped.

Leerkamp said it was her hope Purdy, Cox and Booker would meet at some point during the process to discuss what happened, and that they would likely make individual public statements detailing what they took away from the restorative justice process and how it could be used to resolve future issues in the state.

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